Maximum foam

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Hello. I have been thinking why, when beating a meringue or heavy cream for example, it is said not to whisk at maximum speed because in that way the air is going to be incorporated too quickly, thus not expanding the mixture well. Others claim that maximum speed is necessary for perfect foam. I would stick with the latter option but i am confused. What do you think?
 
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Joined Sep 17, 2018
Hello. I have been thinking why, when beating a meringue or heavy cream for example, it is said not to whisk at maximum speed because in that way the air is going to be incorporated too quickly, thus not expanding the mixture well. Others claim that maximum speed is necessary for perfect foam. I would stick with the latter option but i am confused. What do you think?
I would guess that for two reasons:

1. If you start off at max speed you are going to make a giant mess.
2. People get busy or side tracked and it is very easy to ruin your product if you step away for a second on a max speed.
 

phatch

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Harold McGee doesn't address this directly. he recommends choosing fresh eggs because they are more stable for foaming purposes and a balloon whisk because it beats air in more quickly. If using Power Equipment, then planetary motion is more efficient than just circular motion alone.

Those are certainly speed oriented ideas.

Cook's Illustrated recommends the slow start as an aid to avoid overbeating the eggs.

I've heard that the slow start helps set up the eggs protein better for when the air water emulsion forms and then gets cooked. But I have nothing empirical on that.
 
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A long time ago a French Chef taught me that whisking eggs for meringue should sound like an old steam engine coming down the track...."Choo-choo-choo-choo.....Choo-choo-choo-choo."
Keep the arm steady, whisk from the wrist......sounds funny now but it is still true.
 
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I am not sure where I learned this (classes, books, other pastry chefs) so here's my two cents .... and I'm paraphrasing:

when beating egg whites for meringue, start at a medium speed to allow the foam to build medium sized bubbles to trap air. Foams created at medium speeds are less likely to break down because they are more stable. If you start at a high speed, the foam is less stable because the bubbles are formed too quickly and more likely to collapse because the bubbles are bigger/more fragile than medium sized ones.

From personal experience, if you start whipping (liquid) cream at a high speed you're going to get more on you, the wall, the floor and the mixer. Cover the mixer with saran wrap FIRST. Start on speed 2 and set a timer so you don't forget and make butter.
 
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Joined Apr 29, 2019
I am not sure where I learned this (classes, books, other pastry chefs) so here's my two cents .... and I'm paraphrasing:

when beating egg whites for meringue, start at a medium speed to allow the foam to build medium sized bubbles to trap air. Foams created at medium speeds are less likely to break down because they are more stable. If you start at a high speed, the foam is less stable because the bubbles are formed too quickly and more likely to collapse because the bubbles are bigger/more fragile than medium sized ones.
i find this to be true, as a pastry chef

some things you just cant cut corners on, meringues/pavlovas in my experience have been one of them. I take the longest to make meringues out of the team, i start it on medium and with only half the sugar in with the whites, gradually adding the rest as the mixture stiffens. i take a measure of pride and am willing to put up with the extra few minutes work for the difference in results
 
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Joined Sep 17, 2018
i find this to be true, as a pastry chef

some things you just cant cut corners on, meringues/pavlovas in my experience have been one of them. I take the longest to make meringues out of the team, i start it on medium and with only half the sugar in with the whites, gradually adding the rest as the mixture stiffens. i take a measure of pride and am willing to put up with the extra few minutes work for the difference in results
Since I am not a pastry chef I am just wondering what the difference in results are? I don't usually ever make these type of things. Is it a texture/volume thing? Or more like a shelf life thing?
 
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Joined Apr 29, 2019
Since I am not a pastry chef I am just wondering what the difference in results are? I don't usually ever make these type of things. Is it a texture/volume thing? Or more like a shelf life thing?
its a little tricky to describe, it just becomes one of those "by eye" things. you see something every day, in multiple interpretations, and you start to build a sense for its range of variables. sort of like how my old-school french head chef simply eyeballs the "soft ball" sugar syrup mixture for an Italian meringue by paying attention to the formation of the bubbles as they rise to the surface and pop. how rapidly they rise, how big they grow before they pop, the sound they make when they do

its a "best iteration of the product" thing. a poorly made meringue may look great to start with but will quickly weep when stored. a worse one may even weep while being baked. Ones quickly whipped with large, unstable bubbles can puff up overly fast when being baked and form cracks

texture and shelf-life. worst case scenario is that its simply flawed and barely presentable right out the oven. best case scenario it can keep its appearance and gloss for 2 weeks when stored right.
 
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