Have you ever wondered how to fold ingredients or whether there's a difference between beating and whipping ingredients? This post will explain common mixing methods and how to do each one.
I firmly believe that if you can read a recipe you can bake. I will admit that baking terminology can sometimes be tricky, but understanding the meaning of these basic baking terms will help you find success in the kitchen.
So what does it mean to "beat" the eggs? Is there a difference between beating and whipping? And what the heck does it mean to fold in the whipped cream, anyway?! (Any Schitt's Creek fans recall this hilarious scene from season 2?) I'll break it all down in this post, and I've included a helpful video that shows exactly how to fold, beat, or stir ingredients when baking.
Fold vs. Beat vs. Stir
Folding, beating, and stirring are three different methods for mixing ingredients when baking. Each one uses a different motion and a different tool, producing a different result. I recently saw a popular baking blogger on Instagram say that folding is just a fancy term for stirring, and I cringed.
In this post I'll explain what each mixing method and how to do it, including examples of when to use each method and the kitchen tools most commonly used for each.
What Does Fold Mean in Baking? (& How to Fold Ingredients)
Folding is a way to gently combine ingredients with different densities without deflating the lighter/aerated ingredient. A lighter ingredient, like whipped egg whites, may be folded into a heavier ingredient or mixture, like cake batter, in order to preserve the air bubbles in the egg whites, which will add lightness to the cake batter.
Folding is most often done by adding the lighter ingredient to the heavier ingredient and using a rubber spatula to gently and repeatedly lift and turn the ingredients until they are combined.
What Does Beat Mean in Baking? (& How to Beat Ingredients)
Unlike folding, beating means to stir rapidly to blend ingredients into a smooth mixture while also adding a bit of air to the mixture. Beating can be done by hand with a whisk or using a stand mixer with either the paddle or whisk attachment (or an electric handheld mixer) on medium to high speed. Beating requires some liquid and can be used to mix liquid ingredients or a combination of dry and liquid ingredients. As an example, eggs are commonly beaten to combine the egg white and yolk and to incorporate a bit of air.
Whipping is similar to beating, but the two are not synonyms. Whipping means to beat vigorously in order to incorporate a large amount of air into an ingredient or mixture. For example, whipped cream and whipped egg whites are made by whipping air into cream and egg whites, respectively.
What Does Stir Mean in Baking? (& How to Stir Ingredients)
Stirring simply means to mix ingredients together. This is typically done using a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula, moving around a bowl in a circular motion until all ingredients are combined. Stirring can also be done using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on a low speed setting. Stirring is a common mixing method that can be used to combine dry ingredients, liquid ingredients, or a combination of dry and liquid ingredients.
Often you'll see recipes say "be careful not to over mix" when instructing you to stir a dough or batter that contains flour. This is because, once mixed with a liquid, the proteins in flour begin to form gluten structures. A bit of gluten is good and gives our baked goods structure, but too much gluten - which can be the result of over mixing - will lead to tough, dense, or gummy baked goods. So when a recipe warns you not to over mix the dough or batter, you typically want to stir the ingredients just until they are combined. For example, if stirring flour into a cookie batter, stop stirring as soon as all of the flour has been incorporated and no dry flour remains.
Did you find these explanations helpful? Check out these other scratch baking tips!
DON'T FORGET TO PIN THIS BAKING TIP FOR LATER!