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Video tip: How do I choose the right bread wash? (and a bonus recipe)

Which 'wash' do I use for color and sheen when baking breads and biscuits?

Bread, biscuit and roll recipes often call for some sort of "wash" or glaze before baking. Sometimes a recipe may call for egg, sometimes milk. Even butter. Different washes are used to achieve different results. So how do you choose the right one for your project?

EGG: Using beaten whole eggs will give color and sheen to a bread. Egg yolk provides rich color, browning easily in the oven. Egg white provides a nice sheen.

MILK: Brushing with milk will help to color the crust, the sugars in the milk helping to brown it.
   
WATER: Water is often sprayed or brushed onto bread before it is placed in a very hot oven, and during baking, to give the bread an extra-crisp crust. Water added to an egg wash helps to thin the wash so it brushes more easily.
   
BUTTER: This will give the bread a softer crust and richer flavor.
   
SWEETENERS: Brushing with honey, syrup, etc. will give bread a sweeter, softer crust.

Cooking is fun – at least it should be! No matter how long you’ve been in the kitchen, there is always something new to learn, whether it’s a simple twist on an old technique, or a handy tip to save time and energy. In this series of short videos, I demonstrate a variety of kitchen tips, ranging from how to hold a chef’s knife for maximum control to using a spoon to peel fresh ginger. If you have any gadgets, kitchen tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or shoot me an email at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

MANGALITSA LARD BISCUITS AND SAUSAGE GRAVY

Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes | Serves 4 to 6
Note: Adapted from Sqirl, which serves the biscuits and gravy with an over-easy egg.

LARD BISCUITS

    5 1/2 cups (23.4 ounces) flour
    3 tablespoons baking powder
    2 tablespoons sugar
    1 teaspoon salt
    12 ounces cold lard (Sqirl uses lard rendered from Mangalitsa pigs)
    1 1/2 cups buttermilk, plus extra for the egg wash
    2 eggs, divided
    Cracked pepper and fleur de sel

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Using a pastry cutter or fork, cut in the lard until it is reduced to pea-sized pieces. Stir in the buttermilk and 1 egg just to form a dough.

3. Remove the dough to a well-floured surface, and pat to a thickness of about 1 inch. Cut out biscuits using a 2-inch round cutter and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing the biscuits about 1 1/2 inches apart. The recipe makes about 1 dozen biscuits on the first pass. (Rolling the scraps can give you a dozen or more biscuits.) Beat the remaining egg with a few tablespoons of buttermilk to form the egg wash. Brush the biscuits with the egg wash, and sprinkle over the cracked pepper and fleur de sel.

4. Bake the biscuits until puffed and golden, 12 to 17 minutes, rotating the tray halfway for even baking.

SAUSAGE GRAVY

    1 pound breakfast or standard pork sausage, crumbled
    1 shallot, small dice
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    Pinch of chile flake
    1 teaspoon fresh thyme
    1/4 cup flour
    3 cups warm milk
    Salt, to taste

1. In a dry skillet, cook the sausage over medium-high heat until the fat is rendered and the sausage is golden-brown, about 10 minutes. Add the shallot, garlic, black pepper, chile and thyme. Cook until the shallot is translucent and the herbs are aromatic, 1 to 2 minutes.

2. Sprinkle the flour over and briefly cook, stirring to mix well, about 2 minutes. Slowly drizzle over the warm milk, whisking to mix well so lumps don't form; the milk will begin to thicken quickly. Bring the mixture down to a simmer and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Taste and season as desired with salt before serving.

Each of 6 servings: Calories 1,211; Protein 27 grams; Carbohydrates 106 grams; Fiber 3 grams; Fat 74 grams; Saturated fat 29 grams; Cholesterol 152 mg; Sugar 14 grams; Sodium 1,728 mg.

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