6 tips for beating egg whites into the perfect soft peaks

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Beating egg whites to get them to form the perfect peaks is a basic culinary technique, but one that we haven’t all quite mastered. This somewhat complicated step can drive us nuts when we decide to go baking. Sometimes, it doesn’t take, and we are whisking away in vain awaiting fluffy peaks that never arrive. Remember that in order to succeed with the task, you need a little elbow grease, and plenty of know-how! Here is how to do it the next time round, and be sure that you form the perfect peaks! 

1) Before you start…

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The most important step is separating the whites from the yokes. If there is a little egg yoke that gets into the bowl, your chances of succeeding are greatly reduced. Your utensils should also be completely free of any fats. Also find the best utensils for creating soft peaks: avoid bowls with areas that are difficult to reach (ideally go for a round bottomed bowl) and use a whisk with several prongs so as to inject even more air.

The direction in which you beat the eggs will have no effect on the process. You can change hands, change direction -whatever you like. What counts is that you introduce air bubbles into the eggs.

2) Avoid using eggs that are too fresh

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It is easier to form peaks with slightly older eggs. This is because very fresh egg whites are denser, more compact and more difficult to bring together. If you have just collected your eggs from a farm, beat them very gently at first in order to break them down, and then start to create the peaks.

3) Don’t overdo it

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Sometimes, we can be so delighted that the peaks are forming that we continue beating, thinking it will hold even better and that the eggs will be even more solid. In fact, overdoing it can make the eggs grainy and less runny, which can ruin your mixture.

4) Add sugar or lemon juice

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When you are half way through the process and the peaks start to rise, add a spoon or two of sugar for sweet recipes, or a few drops of lemon juice for savoury dishes. Your eggs will thus be less likely to become grainy and you’ll have a better chance of achieving the perfect consistency.

5) And what about salt?

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Some people add salt (or bicarbonate of soda so as not to ruin the taste) to help the eggs come together. In fact, this has been the subject of several chemistry studies, none of which have provided convincing evidence that salt helps the eggs to hold better or become firmer. If you want to season your egg whites with salt, do so at the end when the eggs have already formed soft peaks.

6) A professionals’ tip

Two powders can help you on your quest for the perfect peaks. Firstly, you have dehydrated egg white powder, which professional chefs always have in their cupboards: add one spoon will ensure smooth and solid egg whites. But another less well known solution is cream of tartar, which can also help provide great results.


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