I’m sharing a secret with you: baking with duck eggs.
“Duck eggs? That sounds weird.” you say.
I know, I know. I stumbled upon this quite by accident. Someone in our community was given a duckling for Easter, and as luck would have it, the duckling got bigger, quite quickly. When it could no longer be kept in the bathtub and a cardboard box, alternately, it wound up at our house with our chickens and its own little kiddie pool. And then one day, there was a weird looking egg in the pen.
After a week, we had a small clutch of duck eggs and no idea what to do with them. First we tried frying one, sunny side up. Ewe. Duck eggs cooked quickly on a high heat, turn into rubber pucks. Scrambled is no better – chewy and weird. Hard boiled duck egg? Terrible. We gave up on eating them plain. But our duck continued to lay eggs and the kids continued to collect them. (Leaving eggs sitting in your pens is an open invitation for snakes to collect them, and/or exploding rottenness. Don’t ask how I know this…) But one day, when I was short on chicken eggs, I used a duck egg in my banana pancake batter. We have never looked back.
It’s difficult to explain what duck eggs add to a baked good. They have a much larger yolk and a very different albumen (egg white).
As you can see from this side-by-side comparison, the eggs in their shells aren’t much different, (size-wise). But when cracked open, there is a clear difference. If you compare their volume, the duck egg has about the same volume of albumen and twice the volume of yolk. The albumen consistency in a raw duck egg is firmer than that of a chicken egg, and the entire content of the duck egg is less, well, runny. When used as a replacement for chicken eggs in baked goods and pancakes, waffles, etc, I replace straight across. One for one. What I have discovered is that my cakes, waffles and dessert breads are far more dense and moist. They also have a richness that no one can quite put their finger on. The richness stands to reason, as there is more yolk in a duck egg. But when I have tried doubling the yolks in recipes using only chicken eggs, I cannot replicate the taste. It’s just tastier with duck eggs – they really will take your baked goods to the next level.
Nutritionally, research tells me that, like chicken eggs, the end product is a direct result of the animals diet. Better diet = better eggs. “You are what you eat.” Here is a side-by-side comparison that I found for you (with a disclaimer). I’m providing these basic charts with a great deal of skepticism because again, the animal’s diet is going to determine much of the egg’s nutrients. If you can visit the farm and see how the chickens and ducks are fed, foraging and living, you will get a much better feel for the quality of their egg products. So take these charts with a grain of salt…
Today, my family lives in an urban area, having traded our Eastern North Carolina rural farmhouse for an in-city townhome next to the Blue Ridge Mountains. I don’t have a backyard poultry flock or much of a garden, sigh. But I do have access to an amazing farmers market and more natural food stores than ever before. I buy my duck eggs from a downtown grocery that carries local produce, meats, dairy and eggs, or I pick them up at the Wednesday farmers market. I pay $6.99 for a dozen duck eggs (about two dollars more than a dozen organic chicken eggs) and I know they are local and fresh.
It was a funny situation that led me to use duck eggs in my baking, but here we are, ten years later, and I wouldn’t use anything else!