Cake baking question: What happens if I don't add all the eggs to the cake?

I am making the pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting and realized I only incorporated 2 egg whites instead of 3. Will the cake suffer?



RosemaryWard November 27, 2019
Hi. To follow up. I took a paring knife and cut a tiny circle from the bottom. It tastes like the pumpkin bread I make. It springs back, isn’t wet or anything in the middle. I just think it’s not as light. I’m going to split it and fill it with frosting and put the seeds on top and hopefully not make that mistake again. Thanks for your help.
RosemaryWard November 27, 2019
I did that one year, made a pumpkin trifle. Not a huge hit. I loved it though. Is there a way to cut into the cake, take a small sliver to taste it? Or, punch a small hole in the center and taste it there? And cover with frosting? I have so many things to do, trying to salvage but still ok with remaking. I am an experienced baker but I have never left something out of the cake before I couldn't whisk it back and add it in.
Brinda A. November 27, 2019
Hi Rosemary! I wouldn't recommend cutting into the cake at this stage, or taking a sliver from it, but here are a few ways of telling if it's still salvageable:

First, wait until the cake has cooled completely. It's hard to get a sense of texture with a still-warm cake, as the proteins haven't had a chance to settle in and give the cake its final structure.

When the cake's completely cool...
1) Inspect the cake visually. Has it fallen in the middle, or does it appear sunken in any way? If so, it's probably a little too dense and stodgy.
2) Try the poke test. Lightly poke the center of the cake with your fingertip, to see if it bounces back. If your finger leaves a distinct, deep imprint, that's a sign of a dense cake. But if the cake bounces back to the touch, then you're good to go!
3) Test the center of the cake with a toothpick. If the crumb comes out slightly wet or gummy, the texture will be a bit different than what you'd ordinarily get from this recipe.

Most likely, it'll still taste really delicious, especially with a dollop of cream cheese frosting on top. Just might be a different texture than you were initially expecting.
RosemaryWard November 27, 2019
Hi, thanks for the reply. I'm making Food52 Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese icing by Sarah Jampel. I used the 3 yolks but when separating them, I always do it into separate bowls so I don't get yolk in the white. Somehow I failed to add one of the bowls of white to the batch. I just took it out of the oven. Wondering if I should make another cake, just in case.
Brinda A. November 27, 2019
Gotcha—thanks, Rosemary! Yes, upon taking a closer look at the recipe, since you're whipping the three egg whites and folding them into the cake, they definitely help lighten up the batter and make the cake fluffier and springier when it bakes. I think the result without the additional egg white unfortunately be a little fudgier/squidgier in texture than you may want.

If you'd prefer to serve the cake as-is, then I'd maybe start from scratch here. But if you're open to a different kind of dessert, you might consider cubing up the baked cake you've just pulled out of the oven, making some custard and fluffy whipped cream, and turning the whole thing into an impressive-looking trifle:

Hope this helps!
Brinda A. November 27, 2019
Hi Rosemary, happy Thanksgiving! What recipe are you baking? Seeing that might help me guide you a little better!

In general, egg whites provide stabilization/structure and binding to cakes—especially so in a pumpkin cake, as pumpkin puree is pretty dense and needs the extra lift from the whites. Minus one egg white, your cake texture *might* be a little less light and fluffy, but I'm sure it'll still taste great!
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