baking how-to: whipped cream and temperature


This is the start of a new column on le sauce dedicated to demystifying baking, for myself and anyone else interested in how to bake successfully. Or just stop freezing in fear at the thought of making pastry, the way I do. I have been venturing, slowly, into the world of baking but it’s time to step it up. And since knowledge is power, what better way to show flour + butter + …whatever else goes into dough who’s boss, than by getting to the facts?

My friend, Suzanne, bakes as much as I cook. (She can cook too. She’s the complete package. But she’s really nice too so it’s hard to glare at her in envy for too long.) I asked her what she could teach us to help us make desserts as perfect as hers. She replied definitively:

…when making whipped cream from scratch, never over mix it.  Watch for the consistency you are looking for and stop, otherwise it will turn to liquid…

Over-whipped cream separates into the liquid Suzanne is referring to, and clumps of butterfat. The experts over at Fine Cooking say that by that point, the whipped cream can’t be saved. Before that point, they recommend adding some fresh cream to the batch and whipping that into it–and actually paying attention to it this time. Will do!

There’s another article worth reading over at The Atlantic, that covers the logic behind tempering, the stages of cooking sugar, and why cold butter makes for a flakier crust! It’s because of the water content in butter that hasn’t started to melt–who knew? Bakers, that’s who.

For those of you alchemists seasoned bakers who have advice to share, leave a comment here or email me. I’ll be seeking more tips and tricks to feature in future posts. Feel free to ask questions too and I promise to get the answer from Suzanne or another expert… faster than a souffle can fall.