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What Does It Mean To Fold In Egg Whites?

bowl of whisked egg whites
bowl of whisked egg whites - Magone/Getty Images

Sometimes, it can feel like baking comes with its own language. If you've ever been stumped searching for a bain marie or stopped in your tracks by a crumb coat, you're not alone. It's also frustrating that some terms sound like common actions but mean something else entirely, like folding. If a recipe tells you to fold in whipped egg whites, it doesn't mean you have to figure out how to tuck and crease your cake batter like a tee shirt. Instead, in the context of cooking and baking, folding just means gently combining the egg whites with something dense, like cake batter.

To the untrained eye, folding and stirring can look pretty similar. Folding is its own thing, however. The goal is to preserve as many air bubbles in the whipped egg whites as possible, which gives the recipe its texture and volume. If you were to stick a spoon or whisk directly into the bowl and stir it around or throw everything into the mixer, you'd squish all the air out of the whites and end up with a very flat angel food cake or sad soufflé. If you fold, however, all that time spent whipping the whites to stiff peaks in the first place won't be in vain.

Read more: Cake Hacks Every Baker Will Wish They Knew Sooner

How To Fold

Folding egg whites into batter
Folding egg whites into batter - TayaJohnston/Shutterstock

Folding is an easy technique that anyone can do; it just takes a little know-how and patience. It likely gets its name from the way you manipulate your spatula, spoon, or whisk in the bowl. All you need to do is pour your egg whites on top of the thicker mixture in a large bowl that can hold the full volume of whatever you're making. Then, gently swipe your tool of choice down the side of the bowl and across the bottom, and flip some of the batter across the top of the egg whites. This will mix the thicker component into the fluffy egg whites without you pushing down on the mixture and crushing the air bubbles in the eggs.

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Repeat this movement several times until all of the egg whites are incorporated and there are no big streaks in the mixture. It helps to periodically pull your spatula or spoon up through the center of the mixture a few times, too. This YouTube shows you exactly how it's done:

Rotate The Bowl

A collection of whisks
A collection of whisks - BLGKV/Shutterstock

One of the hardest parts of folding is being patient, especially once the ingredients start to look like they're mixed together. Folding definitely takes a little longer than stirring, but it's worth the extra work. It's also easy to accidentally start stirring when you're trying to get all the way around the bowl, so move the bowl instead of your arm and utensil. Rotate the bowl ½ to ¼ inch each time you make a pass through the mixture, which will give you an even fold.

It's also a lot easier to fold when you're using the right tool. Many chefs and pastry chefs tend to reach for a trusty whisk for folding because they cut through the mixture rather than push things around, like a spoon. A spatula works well too, plus you can really scrape the bottom of the bowl to get every bit of batter incorporated. Experiment with both tools to see which one you like better. Just remember that the goal is to lift the heavier mixture up into the egg whites, and not the other way around, and you'll always get the perfect fold.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.