Woman holding bowl of cookie dough and mixing with cordless hand mixer.

BAKING TECHNIQUES

Mix, Fold, Whisk & Cream

Do I mix, whisk, cream or fold? These common baking techniques can impact baking in significant ways. Use this guide to understand the differences between mixing methods, including the creaming method, whisking in baking and folding in baking. Learn how these techniques, when properly used, lead to great results and what tools you need to perform them.

1. MIXING IN BAKING

Mixing is one of the most commonly used baking techniques. Simply put, it involves evenly combining two or more ingredients until they become one unified product. There are different types of mixing – including stirring, beating, blending, creaming, whisking and a variety of baking results.

WHY IS MIXING A USEFUL BAKING METHOD?

Mixing refers to how you blend dry and liquid ingredients together into an evenly-distributed, homogenous batter or dough that is baked into a final product. It’s also how you prepare sets of ingredients, like all the dry and all the wet ingredients, which will later be mixed together. By mixing, you hydrate flour and other dry ingredients, which helps gluten form and evenly distributes sugar, spices and fats. Mixing also incorporates air into the batter or dough, which helps achieve optimal volume and texture in finished baked goods.

how to mix in baking

  1. Mixing can refer to a variety of specific methods, so the important thing is to follow your recipe carefully and perform the techniques it calls for in the order they are written. 
  2. Most cake mixing methods and cookie recipes start with creaming fat and sugar, then slowly beating in eggs, other liquids and flour into the dough or batter. Some start with dry ingredients and slowly mix wet ingredients in, then fold in a whisked mixture to add more volume and air.
  3. You might need to fully mix most of the ingredients for your recipe and then slowly mix or fold in chopped nuts, fruit or chocolate.

BEST TOOLS FOR CAKE MIXING

Depending on what type of mixing your recipe calls for, there are several tools you can use, from wooden spoons and spatulas to electric handheld or stand mixers. A spoon or spatula is perfect for mixing ingredients that are easily incorporated such as oil or melted butter in quick breads. 

A hand mixer is a basic tool that brings a lot of versatility to making. It can perform a number of mixing methods, including stirring, creaming, beating and whisking. KitchenAid® hand mixers are available in 5-, 7- or 9-speeds. They can gently mix nuts into batter, cream butter and sugar together for cookies, or whip up light, fluffy Mascarpone Buttercream for cupcakes. 

If you prefer the portability of a cordless hand mixer, you can enjoy powerful mixing with a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery that lets you mix up to 200 cookies on a single charge.1 You can also perform all of the foundational mixing techniques with a KitchenAid® tilt-head or bowl lift stand mixer.

1. Based on 4 batches of chocolate chip cookies.

2. WHISKING IN BAKING

Whisking in baking is a mixing technique that uses a wire whisk to agitate wet ingredients to incorporate air. This method is often used to whip eggs into stiff peaks for meringue and for whipping cream. Whisking can be done by hand with a wire whisk, which is a tool with a narrow handle and wire loops bunched together at the end. You can also whisk with a hand mixer or stand mixer attachment, keeping in mind that a powered mixer will achieve the desired results more quickly than a hand tool.

WHY IS WHISKING A USEFUL BAKING METHOD

By adding air into wet ingredients, whisking allows you to control the volume and lightness of your finished baked goods. Whisking also incorporates dry ingredients into wet ingredients, creating a smooth, evenly-distributed batter. Many cake recipes require whisked egg whites and sugar to be gently folded into the batter just before baking for an airy cake crumb.

HOW TO WHISK IN BAKING

To achieve the best results for hand whisking in baking, follow these steps:

  1. Measure your liquid ingredients into a bowl. Hold the middle of your whisk handle with your dominant hand and the side of the bowl with your opposite hand, tilting the bowl slightly towards your body.
  2. Using your wrist, make quick side-to-side dragging motions, jolting the whisk to create agitation and force the liquid against itself. Without letting the whisk head touch the bottom of the bowl, continue this motion.
  3. Stop once the mixture is incorporated or forms peaks as indicated in your recipe. 
  4. If you whisk by scooping in a circular motion, you will need to whisk for a longer time because the liquid will only move in one direction and tension won’t be created. The back-and-forth dragging motion creates the friction required to incorporate air quickly and efficiently.
  5. The whisking method of cake making incorporates air into egg whites and sugar, which is then folded into the cake batter, ensuring the finished cake is light, airy and tender. If you are using a powered whisk such as a hand mixer or stand mixer, whisking is typically done using the highest speed and will take less time than whisking by hand.

BEST TOOLS FOR WHISKING

Whether you’re baking a layer cake for a special birthday or putting together a savory, eggy breakfast casserole, whisking will help you incorporate air into your liquid ingredients and ensure your finished product is light and airy. If you’re looking for the best whisk for baking, KitchenAid offers a variety of tools that can help you whisk ingredients quickly and efficiently.

3. FOLDING IN BAKING

Folding is a method of mixing in baking that requires gently mixing a light, airy mixture such as whisked egg whites and sugar into batter, or dry ingredients such as chopped nuts and chocolate or even flour into a thicker, heavier mixture. To fold in baking, you’ll add the airy or dry mixture to the heavier mixture by scooping in wide, slow strokes from the bottom of the bowl. The goal is to incorporate the two types of mixtures as gently and with as few strokes as possible to avoid over mixing and deflating the air that’s needed for proper baking.

WHY IS FOLDING A USEFUL BAKING METHOD

Folding helps ensure that finished baked goods have a light and airy texture and is an important technique for things like cakes, quick breads, soufflés and mousse. By folding mixtures together, you can control how much air is in your mixture and achieve ideal results in your final product.

HOW TO FOLD IN BAKING

Follow these steps to get the best results when you fold in baking:

  1. Use a bowl that’s large enough so your ingredients won’t spill over the edge when you’re folding.
  2. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir a quarter of the lighter mixture into the heavier mixture until almost fully incorporated. This helps lighten the heavier mixture so you can fold in the rest more easily.
  3. Scrape the rest of the lighter mixture into the bowl and from the far side of the bowl, cut through the center down to the bottom of the bowl, scraping the bottom and pulling the spatula toward you, lifting the ingredients up the near side of the bowl.
  4. Lift the spatula out of the mixture and rotate it to let any mixture clinging to the blade fall back into the bowl.
  5. Spin the bowl a quarter turn and repeat until the mixture is only just incorporated, being careful not to deflate the batter by overmixing.

BEST TOOLS FOR Folding

You can fold by hand with a rubber spatula, or if you enjoy baking with your hand mixer or stand mixer, you can achieve excellent results by using a slow speed to gently incorporate mixtures together. Whether you’re folding toasted nuts into cookie dough or folding stiffened egg whites into melted chocolate for mousse, KitchenAid can help you effectively fold in baking with a variety of powerful tools.

4. THE CREAMING METHOD IN BAKING

The creaming method entails using a low-medium mixer speed to combine butter or fat and sugar together until they are fully incorporated, fluffy and pale. This is often the first step you’ll take when baking cookies or cakes, forming the base for all the other ingredients.

WHY THE CREAMING METHOD IS USEFUL IN BAKINg

Creaming is one of the most important methods for baking cookies and cakes. Creaming disperses the sugar evenly throughout the fat and incorporates air into the mixture, which is needed for proper leavening. This method produces light, airy cakes that rise tall, and yields chewy cookies with crisp edges. When you cream the fat and sugar before adding other ingredients, it ensures your batter or dough will not be overmixed.

HOW TO USE THE CREAMING METHOD

To effectively cream ingredients, follow these steps:

  1. Always start with softened fat (butter, shortening, coconut cream or other fat). Cold fat fresh from the refrigerator will not cream properly.
  2. Add the fat and sugar for your recipe into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer.
  3. Using the beater on low-medium speed, cream the fat and sugar until it is thoroughly incorporated, pale and fluffy.
  4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl periodically to ensure you are incorporating all of the fat and sugar evenly.
  5. Once your mixture is pale and fluffy, you are ready to begin mixing in other ingredients according to your recipe.

BEST TOOLS FOR CREAMING IN BAKING

Nothing quite beats the effectiveness of an electric mixer for creaming ingredients. You can use your KitchenAid® hand mixer with beaters or stand mixer fitted with the flat beater attachment to cream the butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy. You’ll use the creaming method to produce the perfect light and tender crumb in this simple 5-ingredient pound cake.

EXPLORE creaming TOOLS FROM KITCHENAID

By practicing these important baking techniques you’ll gain an appreciation of how and why these methods impact baking in crucial ways. When you slice into a five-layer cake composed of perfectly light and airy layers and fluffy, creamy buttercream frosting, you’ll taste how these methods can amplify your baking results and expand the culinary possibilities.

 

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