Whipping egg whites for a meringue, or to include in another recipe, seems like an easy enough task. Simply separate the whites from the egg yolk, place them in the bowl of a stand mixer, turn it on and let the magic begin. Seems simple enough right? Sometimes it is just this simple and you end up with a gorgeous, fluffy cloud of egg whites. Lots of times, however, those egg whites won’t fluff no matter what you do. Here’s some tips on fluffing egg whites and also some ideas about what could be the problem if you can’t get them to behave:
- Start with real eggs, not a carton of egg whites. I’ve noticed that egg whites from a carton won’t fluff like fresh egg whites that are separated just before you needs them. I suspect it has something to do with the shell protecting the quality of the egg whites, or it could be an additive or the process used to prepare egg whites for packaging, but fresh egg whites have a gelatinous consistency. When you first start whipping them you’ll notice that they move around the bowl in a jelly-type fashion- then they start to turn white and incorporate air into the structure.
- Make sure your bowl and beater are incredibly clean. Any amount of oil or fat of any type left over from previous use will keep the whites from setting up.
- Chill your bowl and beater first. This really helps as does adding a small amount of cream of tartar.
- Any amount of egg yolk that gets into the egg whites will keep them from fluffing. It’s absolutely annoying to crack each egg in a small separate bowl but this keeps your entire egg white stash from being contaminated if the yolk splits and gets into the bowl.
- Set your mixer on medium speed and you should see the egg whites start to fluff within a few short minutes. If not then something is wrong and it’s better to start over than to keep adding cream of tartar, add more egg whites, chill the bowl, pray out loud or call a friend for help. If the whites don’t start fluffing and setting up within a few minutes it’s likely not going to happen. Sometimes you never figure out what went wrong and try it again and the second time everything goes beautifully!
Learning how to work with egg yolks and egg whites separately is an integral part of successful baking. Leave me some comments and feel free to vent if you’ve had an egg white disaster lately. I went through two batches today to reach my desired outcome so I understand!