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Room Temperature Items for Baking Recipe


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#1 Aria B.

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 04:37 PM

I have a recipe that calls for eggs, butter, and buttermilk all at room temperature. I'm not worried about the butter, but would it be okay to leave eggs and buttermilk out overnight if I'm planning to bake first thing in the morning? How pertinent is it that they are room temp.? It is a pound cake recipe. I've also wondered this with eggs and cream cheese in cheesecake recipes. As usual, thanks everyone.
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#2 sanrensho

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 04:50 PM

Rose Levy Beranbaum recommends leaving cold eggs in warm tap water for about 10 minutes to bring them up to temperature. Although you'll be fine leaving them out overnight unless your house is quite warm. Cream cheese is also fine left out overnight, again assuming that your house is a reasonable temp. If you're worried about leaving it out overnight, you can nuke it in the microwave instead.

Edited by sanrensho, 25 January 2008 - 04:50 PM.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...

#3 gfron1

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 06:26 PM

I think people unnecessarily freak out over leaving things out. I leave out my butter 365 days of the year. I leave my eggs out for days on end. Milk I would definitely leave out overnight if I was baking with it. My only problem has been when I didn't read closely enough and the recipe calls for chilled.

#4 alanamoana

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 07:50 PM

i think it is fine overnight (especially in winter, not so much in summer), particularly if it is going into a product that is going to be baked. if it is going into something that will be served raw, i'd be a little more cautious.

#5 jumanggy

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 09:58 PM

Hi Aria,
For a poundcake, looking over my references (Healy's Art of the Cake and Cook's Illustrated), a butter temperature of 60°F is best, so that'd probably be a few hours (or maybe even overnight if you live in a very cold part of the country) out of the fridge. The idea is to maintain a batter temperature of between 60-65°F throughout (Healy goes so far as to suggest chilling the sugar, Cook's Illustrated is kinder and goes for a final batter temp of 68°F).
We don't have buttermilk here, ever (I always use coddled milk... sigh), but I'm guessing it would be fine at room temperature... The culture would probably even love it :smile:

Ambient temperature here is 82°F today, and on hotter months, 97°F (max, hopefully). Dairy wouldn't really survive overnight here.. In any case, my grandparents never put eggs in the fridge, and they're fine :)
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#6 K8memphis

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 03:55 AM

There are different schools of thought about this. I think most of us would be horrified if a commercial outlet did this. The Health Department would be writing some reports. While no one* probably will get sick, your ingredients will loose some flavor and some nutrients especially the milk. It only takes a half hour to an hour to bring milk and eggs and butter and cream cheese to room temp enough to use. If it were truly fine to leave these products unrefrigerated, suppliers would not hesitate to do so and save the extra costs involved.

*(But different people have different thresholds for what can sicken them too. If someone gets a tummy ache they may not even mention it.)

No for sure no one's gonna probably suffer if highly perishables are left out overnight before baking. It's just not the best way to do it.

For butter, I will often shred it over a sheet pan to have it come to room temp in a snap. Or if I put the sticks of wrapped butter on my marble top, they can be ready in 60 mins easy peasy. I turn them over on the other side/s, the marble pulls the cold out. The hair dryer makes short work of soft butter.

Milk, if you measure and pour it into another container it would be fine to use in 30 - 45 mins.

Eggs placed in warm water and used right away are fine.

Cream cheese left out in opened packages will be ready in 30 - 45 mins or an hour. And then you can put the cream cheese into the mixer first and on slow speed, mix the lumps out where it is all consistently smooth and proceed.

There's no need to stretch the limits of your food safety handling just because you're baking at home. Your products will taste better and last longer this way.

Why wouldn't we want to be as close as possible to the side of safety? Rather than see how far we can push it? Aren't the freshest ingredients the best ones to use?

#7 Serj

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 05:40 AM

I grew up in Europe, where people leave their eggs out all the time, permanently. From what I understand, however, egg suppliers in America are required to wash the eggs before sending them to the supermarkets, which ruins the egg's natural protective layer. From my experience so far professionally, eggs and milk aren't left out overnight at room temperature, for safety reasons. However, butter is and egg whites can be, if they are cracked and out of the shell, as long as the ambient temperature is less than 54 degrees F, as they have a protective enzyme in them.

I agree in general that we need to be thinking a lot about food safety, but I also think people over react a lot, when it comes to home baking. How many mass-outbreaks of e-coli have you heard of from people leaving pasteurized products out in a clean home kitchen over night? I think most of the problems come in chronically dirty kitchens or way earlier in the food production process, ie food not being pasteurized properly.

Also, the acid in our stomachs kill almost every bacteria that gets put in them. Our bodies can handle a lot without getting us sick!

#8 K8memphis

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 08:52 AM

Here's some food for thought. The gist of one of the articles is that three elderly men died and one lady miscarried her baby after a listeria outbreak from contaminated milk ingested in some way at a wedding reception in 1983. The article states the problem was at the milk plant. It states that pasteurization does eliminate listeria but this milk was re-contaminated after pasteruization. "Most of the positive samples at the dairy were found in flavored milk products. Public health investigators believe that the sugar content in the flavored milks may have provided an environment conducive to the growth of Listeria."

It says listeria grows slowly in refrigeration which is unlike other bacterias which actually flourish in cooler temperatures.

There's another article if you scroll down that states that food borne illnesses can cause longstanding and intermittent health problems for those afflicted with them. And these are the people that professionals should be aware of and protect with the highest standards.

Most of us would not have any symptoms from food that might be off a bit. And while it's a fewer number of poor unfortunate souls that could be afflicted they/we are out there.

So my personal motto is don't push it.

If everybody wants to leave ingredients out overnight that's your decision. Almost 100% of the time nothing untoward will happen. If your ingredients are all healthy and produced properly and there's no cross contamination from spinach or anything else the people who eat your stuff will be happy and healthy. But...

#9 Chris Hennes

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 09:08 AM

I agree in general that we need to be thinking a lot about food safety, but I also think people over react a lot, when it comes to home baking. How many mass-outbreaks of e-coli have you heard of from people leaving pasteurized products out in a clean home kitchen over night? I think most of the problems come in chronically dirty kitchens or way earlier in the food production process, ie food not being pasteurized properly.

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I think we need to be very careful with this kind of conversation. I am of two minds: 1) it is certain that our fears of bacterial contamination are vastly overblown - stories about the 999,999 people who didn't get sick don't exactly make the news, and most people's immune systems can handle moderate doses of bacteria with no trouble, BUT 2) there is certainly a clear precident that sometimes people really do get sick and die from being careless with food safety. Yes, it's rare, but do you really want to take that chance when it is so easily mitigated?

So, while I personally have left all of those ingredients out overnight on occasion, and never gotten sick, I just can't actually recommend that anyone do it.

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#10 chefpeon

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 01:23 PM

I think that one point that is being missed here is that you will find if you make a pound cake with cold ingredients and one with all ingredients being at room temp, you will find little to no difference in the finished product.

I did many experiments on this to satisfy my own curiosity. Trust me, you don't really need to take that extra step of making sure all ingredients are room temp, it just doesn't matter in the final product. The extra beauty of that is that you don't have to worry about all these food safety issues, whether they are legitimate or not.

All I ever do is microwave cold butter slightly to soften it for some recipes, but most of the time, I don't even do that.

I bake professionally....every day.....I don't have time (nor would the health dept allow me) to bring all my ingredients to room temp. Everything I bake is beautiful and tasty. I really truly believe that the room temperature thing is a myth, and probably has carried over from the days when homemakers did not have electric mixers and had to mix everything by hand. When you mix by hand, it is definitely much easier to incorporate ingredients that aren't so cold. In the age of stand mixers, this has now become obsolete.

Just my professional 2 cents. :wink:

#11 cyen

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 08:47 PM

Here in Indonesia I noticed that more often than not eggs are left out at room temp in store. I have no idea how fresh the eggs are nor how they were transported to the store (refridgerated or not). When my in laws' staff do large scale baking, they would leave the eggs out at room temp for a day or two until they're all used up. They also buy eggs for daily use and those they just keep in the fridge. I actually find the idea of eggs being out at room temp for days rather disturbing because it's the total opposite of what I learned growing up so if I need eggs for baking or eating, I would just get some from the store or from reputable dealers and hope they're as fresh as my in law claims.

Going a bit off topic but it's still about food hygiene, I also notice people regularly here eat food that's been sitting around at room temp (80+ F) for the entire day. Maybe the spices and chili in Indonesian food help preserve the food, but it still scares me. If I cook, I always put them back into the fridge as soon as possible. Wouldn't want to tempt my luck nor want to give anyone food poisoning. Interestingly enough I have not gotten ill eating at home cooked by me or the cook, and the only time I've gotten sick here were eating my sister-in-law's cooking or eating western style food outside.

#12 Mike B4

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 04:22 AM

I think that one point that is being missed here is that you will find if you make a pound cake with cold ingredients and one with all ingredients being at room temp, you will find little to no difference in the finished product.

I did many experiments on this to satisfy my own curiosity. Trust me, you don't really need to take that extra step of making sure all ingredients are room temp, it just doesn't matter in the final product. The extra beauty of that is that you don't have to worry about all these food safety issues, whether they are legitimate or not.

All I ever do is microwave cold butter slightly to soften it for some recipes, but most of the time, I don't even do that.

I bake professionally....every day.....I don't have time (nor would the health dept allow me) to bring all my ingredients to room temp. Everything I bake is beautiful and tasty. I really truly believe that the room temperature thing is a myth, and probably has carried over from the days when homemakers did not have electric mixers and had to mix everything by hand. When you mix by hand, it is definitely much easier to incorporate ingredients that aren't so cold. In the age of stand mixers, this has now become obsolete.

Just my professional 2 cents. :wink:

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Well said, the sponge cakes I made yesterday everything was cold right from the fridge. I even keep my sugar in the fridge. The only thing that is room temp is the flour.

Mike

#13 Aria B.

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 02:45 PM

I had in my mind that room temperature cream cheese is easier to incorporate smoothly into cheesecake batter. Is this true? Can it just be softened in the microwave if so?
Aria in Oregon

#14 alanamoana

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 03:31 PM

I had in my mind that room temperature cream cheese is easier to incorporate smoothly into cheesecake batter.  Is this true?  Can it just be softened in the microwave if so?

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Yes. I would do it on the defrost cycle so that you don't accidentally cook it.

#15 chefpeon

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 03:40 PM

Yes. I would do it on the defrost cycle so that you don't accidentally cook it.


It also helps if you break it up into small chunks too.....it'll take less time in the micro, and also
reduces your chance of cooking it.

#16 cathrynapple

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 04:01 PM

Growing up in South Africa, we always kept our eggs on the counter. They're also sold at room temperature in grocery stores.

All of the products you're thinking of sound fine (to me) to leave out overnight.

#17 Underfoot

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 04:44 PM

I'm just here to give my own experience, but I've never had any ill-effects from years of cooking with eggs that have been left on the counter ever since we got them from the store. We buy the Costco pack, so it takes a while to get through it and yet we've never had any problems. I should say that I eat batter with raw eggs in it, also with no ill-effects, so it may just be the way I was raised.

#18 onetoughcookie

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 05:00 PM

"your ingredients will loose some flavor and some nutrients especially the milk."

K8,who's eating cake for nutrients? Except me, of course :wink:

Sorry...couldn't help myself.

Europeans leave butter and eggs out all the time. I make Italian buttercream using
pasteurized egg whites. I won't tell you how long I've kept it out.

So far, so good.

Edited by onetoughcookie, 27 January 2008 - 05:03 PM.

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#19 K8memphis

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 05:46 PM

OneTough, If I eat enough cake I'm gonna get a nutrient I'm sure just any minute/year now. It's a quantity thing I'm thinking. :laugh:

I'm glad that so many people do not get sick from leaving these products out. I've said that almost 100% of the time no one probably would get sick.

I make Swiss Meringue buttercream and leave it out no worries. I do not use pasteurized eggs.

But Ladies and gentlemen, I have had food poisoning twice and lived to tell about it. I have a touchy freaky tummy my own self. I would not ever heat my cream cheese before using it. Fear and pain are stunning great motivators.

Y'all go right ahead and proceed full steam ahead. I can't do that though. And I agree with Chris that it's a personal decision and that as a professional, I would/could never recommend to anyone to do it that way.

Those are my cream cheesiest thoughts.

#20 gfron1

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 06:04 PM

Agreed. What I do for myself and what I do at my store are two totally different things. I won't sue myself...at least unless it makes me money.

#21 Sarah Phillips

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 09:52 AM

I think that one point that is being missed here is that you will find if you make a pound cake with cold ingredients and one with all ingredients being at room temp, you will find little to no difference in the finished product.

I did many experiments on this to satisfy my own curiosity. Trust me, you don't really need to take that extra step of making sure all ingredients are room temp, it just doesn't matter in the final product. The extra beauty of that is that you don't have to worry about all these food safety issues, whether they are legitimate or not.

All I ever do is microwave cold butter slightly to soften it for some recipes, but most of the time, I don't even do that.

I bake professionally....every day.....I don't have time (nor would the health dept allow me) to bring all my ingredients to room temp. Everything I bake is beautiful and tasty. I really truly believe that the room temperature thing is a myth, and probably has carried over from the days when homemakers did not have electric mixers and had to mix everything by hand. When you mix by hand, it is definitely much easier to incorporate ingredients that aren't so cold. In the age of stand mixers, this has now become obsolete.

Just my professional 2 cents. :wink:

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Hi chefpeon,

I couldn't help but notice your post. Your words sound so close to my original thoughts! And, you have posted on my website, too, and you once did some work for me on decorating cakes, since you are so talented.....I am still a big admirer or your work!

But, I always give others credit where credit is due.....Unless you thought up the exact same thing on your own, did the exact same research (which I seem to recall you did after you read my website)......And, have the exact same/similiar words to describe your findings as I do, too! I will call that amazing!

In fact, I have written repeatedly in my website, baking911.com, since 2000, and published in my Baking 9-1-1 Book (2003, Simon and Schuster) the same thoughts...

"There is no longer a need to let ingredients warm to room temperature with today's electric mixers. The instruction in today's cookbooks is an old-fashioned hold-over from long ago!

How to bake a butter cake with cold ingredients!

The main concern when mixing a butter cake is temperature. I have been doing a lot of research into the topic. To get the best volume, the batter should stay between 60 to 65 degrees F throughout the mixing process. So, I have found that that means that all ingredients should be used from from the refrigerator if using an electric mixer, otherwise the butter will melt, ruining the batter's emulsion.

I have proven this with my own work and wrote about this in my Baking 9-1-1 Book, Simon and Schuster, 2003, page 14. "Old fashioned ngredients were hand mixed, hence the need for warmer ingredients so they'd mix faster. Today, we use electric mixers most of the time and they warm the ingredients. This may sound blasphemous, but I think the whole room temperature thing is old-fashioned. I usually use ingredients cold from the refrigerator except for temperature-sensitive ingredients such as chocolate.

In the case of creaming the butter and sugar, cold butter will take longer to get to the right consistency before you can add the sugar, but it will get there...I always use (eggs) right from the refrigerator..."

I have measured with an Instant Read Thermometer, that the batter stays in the temperature range of about 65 degrees F! In fact, science has proven that butter is best aerated at a relatively cool 65 degrees F (shortening creams most effectively between 75 and 80 degrees F.)."

I show the whole process on my blog, all the temperature ranges, from beginning to end, when mixing a butter cake!

edited to add: In fact, someone pointed out Bruce Healy's books to me later on, and he even recommends chilling the flour, as well!

Oh, well, chefpeon.....

Edited by Sarah Phillips, 29 January 2008 - 10:23 AM.

Happy Baking! Sarah Phillips, President and Founder, http://www.baking911.com

#22 pax

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 10:14 AM

This is a little off topic, so I hope nobody minds my question here: suppose I'm making a pie crust or something and the recipe calls for the butter to be a specific temperature. I tend to do like others here do, and let butter come up to temp on my marble countertop an hour ahead of time. If the temp of the dough I am working goes over required temp, is there any problem with putting the whole bowl back in the fridge to get it down to the right temp? Or, have I already killed the objective at that point? (Obviously, not after I've added my leavener, whatever it is.)


To answer the op from my perspective, (not an educated chef), I have left home gathered, non-washed eggs in a stone ware bowl in the pantry for days at a time. Store eggs I tend to stick in the fridge immediately. I leave both on the counter when doing a day of baking.

I don't mess with dairy. It goes from store to cooler to fridge and it stays there when not in use. I will put out a creamer for brunch or something and let it sit, but that's it.
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#23 JeanneCake

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 04:16 PM

"Europeans leave butter and eggs out all the time.  I make Italian buttercream using pasteurized egg whites.  I won't tell you how long I've kept it out. 

So far, so good.

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Anytime I've used pasteurized whites, they collapse when I add the sugar syrup. I've figured out through my own trial and error that I can get away with about 1/3 of the total quantity of whites as pasteurized, more than that and they collapse.

What kind are you using? It would be a whole lot cheaper than all these shell eggs I'm going through... Thanks!

#24 Busboy

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 04:39 PM

I think people unnecessarily freak out over leaving things out.  I leave out my butter 365 days of the year.  I leave my eggs out for days on end.  Milk I would definitely leave out overnight if I was baking with it.  My only problem has been when I didn't read closely enough and the recipe calls for chilled.

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I agree with you in spirit but will only point out that -- according to the weird-looking guy on the food channel who seems to know what he's talking about -- unrefrigerated eggs age in dog years. That is, leaving them out a day has the same deleterious effect on freshness (but beneficial effect hard-boiled eggs peelability) that throwing in the back of the fridge for a week has.
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#25 PastryGuru

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 05:39 PM

"Europeans leave butter and eggs out all the time.  I make Italian buttercream using pasteurized egg whites.  I won't tell you how long I've kept it out. 

So far, so good.

View Post


Anytime I've used pasteurized whites, they collapse when I add the sugar syrup. I've figured out through my own trial and error that I can get away with about 1/3 of the total quantity of whites as pasteurized, more than that and they collapse.

What kind are you using? It would be a whole lot cheaper than all these shell eggs I'm going through... Thanks!

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A couple things I have noticed about using pasteurized egg whites:

1) because they whip up so quickly, they can still be ice cold when you add the sugar syrup, which will cause shards of sugar to fly out of the bowl (Solution: I go over my production list in the morning and pull what I need to warm up to room temp--or microwave on the defrost setting if I'm really in a hurry)

2) they don't take kindly to sugar syrups--the resulting meringue tends to collapse quickly and doesn't recover as quickly or as fully as meringues made with fresh egg whites. Basically, I don't think meringues made with pasteurized egg whites are as stable as those made with fresh egg whites (hence, the whipping agents). So, in recipes where I depend on meringues primarily for leavening, I use fresh egg whites. (Solution: I only use pasteurized egg whites for buttercreams, royal icing, ice creams, some sponge cake recipes and chewy-style macaroons; I use fresh egg whites in all other recipes)