How to Fold in Egg Whites
Knowing how to fold in egg whites properly will ensure a light and fluffy texture to your creation. It’s so very easy to get this wrong and most recipes take for granted that the reader will know how to perform the technique, so Man’s Guide to Everything is here to clear the fog.
1- Start with a very clean bowl. Before you whip egg whites, wash your mixing bowl with warm, soapy water. You want to be sure that there are no oil or grease particles in your bowl. Even if you haven’t used your mixing bowl recently, I recommend washing it.
2- Choose your speed for whipping. I like to whip my egg whites on medium speed on a stand mixer, or for hand mixers use a high speed. Alternatively put some elbow grease in and do it by hand as the whites retain their structure better when whipped slower. Begin whipping and keep an eye out for them to foam and thicken.
3- Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. You’ll know you’ve reached this stage when you can lift up the whip, and the tip of the peak formed by lifting the whip droops over. At this point, gradually add the sugar called for in the recipe.
4- Continue until you have glossy peaks. Continue whipping at medium speed until the egg whites form stiff, glossy peaks. You can see this clearly by lifting up your whip and holding it horizontally. The egg whites should not droop or fall off the whip.
5- Do not overbeat. If you whip until the egg whites are dry, the mixture will break down as you fold it into the batter, creating a heavier end product. Stop my mixer frequently when you get close to the stiff peak stage to check the consistency of the whites and make sure that they’re not overbeaten.
6- Start with adding just a third. This is to lighten the batter initially and prepare it for the rest of the egg whites.
7- Fold by drawing the spatula towards you and then over. Hold it so that the flat side is facing you so that you can see the expanse of the spatula’s head and push it down into the centre of the mixture. Draw the spatula towards you, scooping a swath of batter along with it. Bring the spatula up the side of the bowl and gently push it down in the centre of the batter again. You should see a ribbon of batter left in the wake of the spatula. As you repeat this movement, rotate the bowl, working your way around, always starting in the centre, moving to the side of the bowl, and bringing the spatula upwards to mingle the egg whites and batter. As you fold, the position of the spatula will change. When you push it down in the centre, you want the flat side towards you, meaning that the “sharp” side goes down into the batter first, causing as little deflation of the whites as possible. When you bring the spatula up again, you want the flat side facing up in order to bring up as much batter as possible.
8- Repeat the movement. Repeat this movement until the batter is more or less homogenous. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t want to see large streaks or clumps of egg white, but total and complete incorporation of egg whites is not necessary. You may see some thin, fine stripes of egg white. This is fine.
9- Transfer and cook as soon as possible. Place the mixture into the device that you intend to cook it in as soon as possible to avoid disturbing it once it’s settled.
Dry the bowl thoroughly. Do the same for your whisk.
Cream of tartar is a by-product of wine making that is often used when whipping egg whites to stabilise the egg foam and increase the volume of the whites. Give it a try.