When baking, appearance is nearly as important as the flavor. For many baked goods brushing something on top produces an eye appeal to make it irresistible.
Most recipes suggest an egg wash, a simple enough task, taking a small amount of scrambled eggs, diluting with about equal amount of water and, voilà, you have an egg wash. Most baked stuff has egg as ingredient and if you think ahead, you save a teaspoon of it for the egg wash. If not, you hate to break another egg just for a tiny egg wash.
But there are other choices, too and here is a list of them:
Whole egg and salt shiny surface
Whole egg and milk medium-shiny surface
Whole egg and water less shine, golden surface
Egg yolk and water shiny, golden surface
Egg yolk and cream shiny, brown surface
Egg white light-colored crisp surface
Egg white and milk transparent shiny surface
And there is one more, particularly good for yeast breads: the cornstarch glaze. I keep a small jar in my refrigerator so it’s available all the time. This concoction keeps for months if not for years. It produces a modest shine.
Mix 2 teaspoons cold water into 1½ teaspoons cornstarch to form a thin paste. Whisk in ¼ cup boiling water, pour it into a small jar and keep it refrigerated. When you need a glaze, shake up the jar and brush the cornstarch glaze on the top surface and sides.