Encyclopedia Archives: E

eau de vie

eau de vie (ohduh vee; English oh duh vee) noun


Also eau-de-vie or eaux-de-vie. The French term literally meaning “water of life,” referring to a clear fruit brandy made from fruit other than grapes. The term eau-de-vie was coined in the 1200s by alchemist Arnaud de Ville-Neuve. 1

You can easily find eau de vie made from apples, berries and other stone fruits. 2 It is occasionally made from grapes, however, then referred to as eaux-de-vie de vin.

The fruit is fermented and distilled, sometimes double-distilled, and is typically not aged in wooden casks, leaving the beverage clear. Some distillers do age their formula, however. The flavor is highly alcoholic with a dry fruit essence; they are typically 40% or 80 proof and imbibed as a digestif.

Some famous eau de vie are Hungarian Barack Palinka, made from apricots; Kirsh or kirshwasser from Switzerland, based on cherries and used in the famous Zuger Kirschtorte as well as in classic cheese fondue; poire Williams is pear-flavored and made in Germany, Switzerland and Alsace, France.



  1. Exposition Universelle des Vins & Spiritueux
  2. The Drink Shop

Image: Dédé Wilson

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emulsion [ih-muhl-shuhn] noun


A mixture of two liquids that, without the proper technique, will not readily combine, such as oil and water.  An emulsion is produced by slowly adding one product to the other while rapidly combining them. This suspends one ingredient within the other. The result is usually thick, glossy and creamy in appearance and texture.

Common examples of emulsions include hollandaise sauce, mayonnaise and vinaigrettes, and in the sweet kitchen, ganache is probably the most common.


Bakepedia Tips

Ganache has a tendency to “break,” at which point it will look separated. Sometimes the chocolate will look lumpy or grainy and there will be an accompanying fatty oil slick. This means the ganache was not prepared properly or that the types of ingredients used, or the ratio of ingredients, prevented an emulsion from being created. Just as with mayonnaise, the use of a blender, food processor or stick blender can bring the ingredients together forcefully enough to aid in the creation of a proper emulsion. If your ganache has “broken,” try zapping it with a hand blender to bring the ingredients together into a silky emulsion, perhaps drizzling in some cold cream as you go.

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egg wash

egg wash (eg wosh, wawsh) noun, verb

egg wash

A mixture comprised of egg and water, milk or cream that is brushed over unbaked pastry or bread. Typically one or two tablespoons of liquid will be added per egg, although this can vary, and sometimes recipes use just egg yolk.

The term, while usually used as a noun, is sometimes turned into a verb, as in “egg wash the top of the rolls.”

The egg wash produces a golden color as well as an attractive sheen on the baked item. This mixture can also be used as a “glue” to bring to pieces of pastry together, such as when making turnovers, as seen below, or when applying decorative pieces of pastry to solid pieces of pastry.

sealing pastry with egg wash


Bakepedia Tips

egg wash on lattice crust

The left half of this lattice pie pastry was brushed with an egg wash made from 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of water, the right half was left plain. You can also see on the left of the lattice how it was applied a bit unevenly. The darker, more glazed areas received more egg wash. An even application is important.


The same goes for these rolls – the left one has egg wash, the right roll was left plain. The egg wash not only creates an attractive appearance, it also adds a desirable texture.

Images: Peter Muka

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extract [ik-strakt] noun


Concentrated flavorings made from foods and plants through the processes of distillation and evaporation, imparting powerful flavor to dishes without changing the consistency or adding to the volume. They can be naturally flavored or imitation. Vanilla extract is the most prevalent in sweet baking. Pure vanilla extract contains a minimum of 35% alcohol per FDA standards.


Bakepedia Tips

Make sure you store these ingredients in a cool, dry place and with the tops tightly closed, which will increase their shelf life. The Bakepedia test kitchen uses Neilsen-Massey vanilla and almond extracts as our “house” brand. For a non-alcoholic substitution, use pure vanilla bean.

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enriched flour

enriched flour [en-rich flou-er] noun

Flour with added nutrients (B vitamins and iron) to satisfy FDA standards.  The manufacturing process used to produce white flour can remove these nutrients from the whole grain. You will find both bleached and unbleached flours that have been “enriched.”



While enriched flours have nutrients added back in, they begin with flour stripped of its natural nutrients. Most artisanal bakers do not consider enriched flour to be a natural, whole food and prefer flour that was not compromised in the first place.

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éclair [ey-klair] noun

inside of eclair

A long, finger-shaped pastry (similar to a cruller) made from pâte à choux (also known as choux paste).  The choux is piped into “logs” typically about 6 inches long. The logs are then baked in a high temp oven, during which the dough expands and dries out. After cooling, each éclair is typically filled with vanilla pastry cream or custard, but you might see them filled with whipped cream or with various flavors of custard.  Traditionally, the top is dipped in chocolate fondant. Éclair is also the French term for lightning, and many believe that the word was chosen for this dessert because of how light reflects in a wavy pattern on the surface of a glazed éclair.


Bakepedia Tips

Both chocolate and vanilla fondant are found in the traditional French pastry kitchen, but fondant is not that easy to make at home. In fact, many chefs begin with a commercially prepared product. Chocolate ganache is a good alternative for your homemade éclairs. As an aside, choux paste is also used to make cream puffs.

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