Folding Method – Tips and Tricks
- Folding is a gentle mixing method. It is intended to combine two elements when one or both is delicate, and subject to being destroyed by overly vigorous mixing.
- It is most commonly used to combine beaten egg whites, or whipped cream, with a heavier mixture, such as batter.
- When folding two mixtures together, it is important for both of them to be approximately the same temperature. This allows them to combine smoothly. If one is significantly cooler than the other, the warmer mixture will form clumps when the two are folded together.
- The lighter mixture is usually placed on top of the heavier one in a large bowl. Do not do the reverse or the foam will partially collapse.
Folding – Tips and Tricks
- 1 container heavy substance
- 1 container light/delicate substance like foamed egg whites
- To get yourself oriented, see this video
- Starting at the back of the bowl, a rubber spatula is used to cut down vertically through the two mixtures, across the bottom of the bowl, and up the nearest side.
The bowl is then rotated a quarter turn with each stroke, continuing the down–across–up–and–over motion.
This gently turns the mixtures over on top of each other, combining them in the process. A rubber spatula is the ideal tool for this method.
- Always fold gently, but thoroughly, since under-folding can leave pockets of foam that are not combined with the batter, which then forms a sticky wet layer on the bottom of the pan after baking; over-folding can result in a product that does not rise appropriately in the oven.
- If the batter is very thick or heavy, first stir in about a quarter of the lighter foam. This will loosen the mixture, and enable the remainder of the foam to be folded in with ease.
- Generally, the folding process should take about a minute, to avoid over folding. Some streaks may remain, but these should be thin and even. If the batter is evenly streaked, it is generally okay to stop.
Folding liquid fat such as butter, into a batter, use the following steps:
- Soften or melt the butter. Place in a medium-size mixing bowl. Let cool until tepid.
- Mix in 1 cup of the batter.
- Add the rest of the batter, then fold as above.
Foamed egg whites are used in many recipes, especially low carb recipes, because they provide leavening (fluffiness) without requiring flour. For a typical usage, see our Japanese Cheesecake Recipe, or our Meringue Recipes.
- Beat at room temperature – Eggs are easier to separate when cold, because yolks break more easily at room temperature. But egg whites should be brought to room temperature before foaming. This is because egg white protein is more elastic at room temperature, so they fluff faster and bigger, with a finer texture at room temperature.
- Even a trace of fat will interfere with properly whipping egg whites – Fat from leftover oil or butter in the mixing bowl, egg yolks from partially separated eggs, or even incompletely rinsed detergent can prevent your foam from forming. Even oil residue on the egg beaters must be cleaned before starting. As a final safety check, you can rinse the bowl and beaters with a mild acid, like lemon juice or vinegar, which will also help to stabilize the final foam.
- Seriously, use an electric beater. Using a whisk is great if you’re a French chef in the 1600’s. Otherwise, the forearm workout isn’t worth the pain and the decreased fluffiness. Electric.
Stabilizing the Foam
- Adding an acid during step 2 below, when the whites are just beginning to become frothy, can stabilize the foam. Use about 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar per egg white, or about a quarter teaspoon lemon juice per egg white.
- Sugar also helps to stabilize the beaten egg foams. When adding sugar, add very slowly at the side of the bowl while the whites are being whipped, to avoid deflating the whites. Generally, it’s best to add sugar at the “soft peak” stage.
- Adding water can increase the volume of egg white foam, but too much can decrease the stability of the foam.
What kind of mixing bowl?
- Using a copper mixing bowl allows copper ions to react chemically with the conalbumin in the egg whites, which helps form a more stable, more moist foam. This can prevent you from needing to use cream of tartar.
- Before using a copper mixing bowl, scour the bowl with a quarter cup of vinegar or lemon juice and a tablespoon of salt, then rinse it and dry thoroughly before beginning.
- Never use plastic or wood bowls, because they are porous, and can retain fat from previous uses.
- Never use an aluminum bowl, because the aluminum reacts with egg whites, causing them to turn slightly gray.
Egg White Foam – Tips and Tricks
- Copper Mixing Bowl
- 2 Egg whites Minimum of 2. Old egg whites beat to higher volume, but are less stable and collapse sooner
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar 1/8th of a tsp per egg white. Stabilizes foam. Lemon juice can also work.
Egg Whites go through 5 stages when being whipped
- Stage 1 – raw
Stage 2 – frothy, foamy, cloudy
Stage 3 – soft peaks
Stage 4 – firm peaks
Stage 5 – stiff peaks
Stage 1 – Raw
- When you begin whipping the egg whites, always start the mixer on low speed, until the egg whites are foamy, then gradually increase the speed. Beginning slowly will allow the egg whites to reach their fullest volume.
Stage 2 – Frothy, Foamy
- Continue on low to medium speed. Cream of tartar can be added at this stage if needed. Gradually increase the mixer speed to medium/high.
Stage 3 – Soft Peaks
- Gradually increase mixer speed to high. If you are adding sugar, generally do so at this stage, a little of the time, at the edge of the bowl. Stop here for ordinary or soft meringue.
If adding any extracts, quickly and evenly sprinkle while the mixer is still running, at the very end.
- At the completion of this stage, the foam should hold a peak when the mixer is withdrawn, but the peak should easily collapse into the foam with any light jostling.
Stage 4 – Firm Peaks
- For a stiff meringue, at the sugar at this stage. Use the same technique described above, adding slowly. Mixer should remain on high.
If adding extracts, sprinkle evenly over the meringue, prior to stopping the mixer, toward the end of the process.
- At the completion of this stage, the foam should hold its peaks, which should be straight, and hold their shape even with light jostling. The foam will be smooth, moist, and shiny.
Stage 5 – Stiff Peaks
- Continuing to beat on high, the egg white foam will continue to stiffen.
- At the completion of the stage, the whites have become very glossy, and very stiff. If the whites become dry and dull, they are over-beaten. This can happen quickly, in as little as 30 seconds.
Because copper binds to conalbumin, it also protects against over beating, by minimizing the number of egg white proteins that are free to denature and coagulate.
- Egg whites are losing air bubbles (deflating) as soon as you stop whipping them, so incorporate them as soon as possible into the batter. A spatula is the best tool for folding.
- Beating, stirring, and jarring can break down the foam; when you fold the egg whites in, use a gentle touch. See our tips on folding post.
- Rescue overbeaten egg whites by adding one extra egg white and beating again. Doesn’t always work, but it’s sometimes worth a try.
- When cooking a recipe using beaten egg whites, it is best to use ungreased pan sides, that allow the egg whites to cling while they are rising in the oven. This allows for the maximum rise, preventing egg whites from slipping downward.
- In general, it is best to cook egg white leavened recipes in the lower one-third of the oven, to minimize direct heat.
A Delicious Low Carb Cheesecake
My mom always made cheesecake for us on holidays. It was one of her “signature” desserts. With all those memories, it’s been hard to avoid making this cheesecake since I switched to a low-carb diet, but with this low carb cheesecake recipe, now I can!
Mom always called it a “New-York” cheesecake, but I found out recently that that’s not correct. It’s actually “Japanese Style” cheesecake. When I ordered New York Cheesecake at restaurants, I was always disappointed by the gelatinous, thick, cloyingly sweet dessert I would get.
Now I know why – I was expecting “Japanese style”, because my mom got the name wrong! This style seems to be the latest rave, but I’ve been happily eating it since childhood. To me, it’s still the “ultimate” cheesecake. It’s light, fluffy, and not overly sweet.
I’ve taken over the recipe, modernized it, and used my understanding of food science to make a delicious low carb version. Even my in-laws have loved it (though they claim to hate low-carb foods).
Remember, I’ve been on a low carb diet for a long time, so my taste buds have adjusted to perceiving sweetness quite strongly. You might have to adjust the recipe for your own preference. Both the sweeteners I recommend are about 70% as sweet as sugar.
I do not recommend using artificial sweeteners (not even my preferred natural zero-carb sweeteners) more often than once per month, but during my once-a-month indulgence, I love this recipe.
Why have I chosen these particular sweeteners? Because they are the least harmful options – they may even be beneficial. I also recommend always having some carbohydrates when consuming anything sweet. I think that low-carb is better than no-carb for anything that tastes sweet. For a detailed analysis, see my other post on artificial sweeteners.
Low Carb Japanese Cheesecake
- Springform Pan
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1-2 sheets graham crackers 'Nilla wafers or cinnamon graham crackers are great too!
- 19 oz cream cheese
- 3 tbsp flour
- 1 cup erythritol or xylitol
- ½ cup Just Like Sugar for Baking
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Bowl 2 – Fats
- 6 egg yolks
- 16 oz sour cream regular, full fat only
Bowl 3 – Copper Mixing Bowl
- 6 egg whites
- 3 tbsp sugar These provide most of the carbs, but it also stabilizes the egg white foam
- 1 Roasting Pan Big enough to comfortably contain the springform pan
- 1-2 Liters Hot Water Enough to create water bath – see instructions
- Rub bottom but NOT the sides of a 9" springform pan generously with butter.
- Crush 1 or 2 graham cracker sheets in your hands or in food processor until the texture of crushed whole black pepper and then toss in the springform pan until a thin layer has adhered to the butter. When no more will adhere, empty the remaining cracker powder to the trash.
- Wrap the exterior of the bottom of the pan in 3 large sheets of aluminum foil, and pinch along the bottom of the pan, to create a waterproof seal.
- Prepare roasting pan (or any oven-safe container large enough to contain the springform pan) by filling with 1-2 inches of hot water. This is your water bath, so make sure it won't overflow when you put the springform pan into it.
Bowl 1 – Large
- Cream together cream cheese with sifted flour, erythritol and "Just Like Sugar".
Use Mixer on Slow Speed
- Add vanilla extract, all while continuing to cream until smooth.
- Mix together Sour Cream and Egg Yolks
- Mix Bowl 2 into Bowl 1
Bowl 3 – Copper Mixing Bowl
- Clean the beaters and the bowl thoroughly before using. Even a tiny amount of fat from bowl 1 or detergent residue will ruin the foam.
I use a copper mixing bowl to stabilize the foam, but if you don't have one, you can also use cream of tartar (⅛ tsp per egg white). Lemon juice also works.Beat egg whites. Start mixer on low to avoid splashes, advance to high speed as soon as possible.
- Once the foam has started to form (at the stage of very soft peaks), SLOWLY start adding sugar to egg whites while continuing to beat on high until all sugar has been added. Only add a little sugar at a time.
Adding the sugar too early or too fast will prevent the foam from forming.
- Continue to beat on high until firm/stiff peaks form.
You know they're stiff when they hold their shape after the beater is turned off, even if you tap the beater gently on the counter.
- Fold (do not stir or beat) ⅕ (roughly) of egg whites from Bowl 3 rapidly into Bowl 1
- Gently but swiftly fold in the remaining egg whites from Bowl 3 into Bowl 1.
Continue folding briefly until mostly combined. Do not combine until smooth or uniform – allow some lumpiness and streaking to remain.
- Pour the batter from Bowl 1 into springform pan until it's a little more than ⅔ full.
The batter will expand while baking and if you put too much, it will overflow.
- Place the springform pan into the water bath, and then bake at 300° for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Do not open the oven.
- Turn off oven but DO NOT remove the cake (do not open the oven door). Allow to sit in the cooling oven for 2 hours.
- Crack open oven door and allow to cool for 1 hour.
- Cover and Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
- Slice into 8 slices, garnish with mint, whipped cream and/or fruit.
- Erythritol and “Just Like Sugar” are my recommended low-carb sweeteners. I’ve written a post about why.
- “Just Like Sugar for Baking” is the same as the “table” product, just ground more finely so it incorporates better into batter.
- Foaming the egg whites is the key to the cake’s final texture – I’ve compiled a post detailing the process.
- The foamed egg whites lose volume over time and with agitation. Fold them into the batter quickly to avoid loss of volume, but not so quickly that you destroy the foam yourself by being overly aggressive. See a video here – the key is combining gentleness with swiftness. Check out these folding tips and tricks to get the method nailed down.
Paperwork is Destroying Quality
I will write all about it here after the website is not in testing phase