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There is a popular sitcom with an infamous scene about what does it mean to “fold in the cheese”? The dynamic mother-son duo dispute how to fold in cheese…with neither knowing how to fold, leaves me laughing with tears in my eyes every time!

When baking it is important to know the differences between common terms such as stir, fold, and whisk as each method produces different results.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Stir: Stirring is the basic mixing method used in baking and also the simplest. Using a spoon or rubber spatula, ingredients are mixed until uniformly blended. There is no vigorous motion, as you are not trying to preserve volume or add air to the mixture, just simply combine ingredients until evenly distributed.

Fold: Folding is done to ensure that the mixture maintains a light, fluffy texture. Air is the key to success here, you do not want to deflate your ingredients as you combine them. To fold, you typically use a rubber spatula or flat spoon. Before folding, gently whisk a quarter of the lighter mixture into the heavier mixture until it is almost fully incorporated. Then gradually add the remaining light mixture to the top of the heavy mixture. Folding is the process of cutting through the center of the mixture to the bottom of the bowl, sliding the spatula across the bottom and up the side of the bowl, lifting the ingredients up off the bottom and gently onto the top. Rotate your bowl a quarter of a turn and repeat.

Whisk: To add air (volume) into wet ingredients, whisking is the method to use. Typically, whisking is used to make whip cream, light fluffy omelets, or meringue. Using your wrist, use a handheld whisk to jolt the whisk in a side-to-side motion. This motion agitates the mixture back and forth against itself creating the shear force needed to create the desired volume. Whisking in a round motion only works on one item, egg whites, due to the protein structure.

Reading a recipe is a skill. Be sure to not just skim it, but to look and understand each step from start to finish. If you are trying out a skill for the first time, look up how-to videos before you start, so that you feel prepared and have the required tools on hand. Make notes and highlight any special instructions so that you are prepped and ready to go. Most importantly, have fun, create memories, learn new skills, and be creative. And if all doesn’t go according to plan, just laugh, and try again. Practice makes perfect and delicious.

Sources:

Husted, E. (2006). Glossary of food terms, Oregon State University Extension. Retrieved from https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/4-h93111.pdf

KitchenAid. (N.D.) Mix, Fold, Whisk, and Cream. Retrieved from https://www.kitchenaid.com/pinch-of-help/countertop-appliances/difference-mix-fold-whisk-cream.html

Purdue University. (2002). Cooking techniques.  Retrieved from https://www.four-h.purdue.edu/foods/Cooking%20techniques.htm

Southern Living. (N.D.). How to fold in meringue for light and fluffy desserts. Retrieved from https://www.southernliving.com/food/kitchen-assistant/how-to-fold-in-meringue

The Accidental Scientist. (N.D.). Science of Eggs. Science of Cooking. Retrieved from https://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/eggs/eggscience.html#:~:text=The%20proteins%20in%20an%20egg,the%20water%20that%20surrounds%20it.

Wikipedia. (N.D.). Shear force. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shear_force

Written by: Roseanne Scammahorn, Ph.D., Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Darke County

Reviewed by: Melissa Rupp, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Fluton County

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