- Folding Ingredients
Often brushed off as a minor recipe detail, the simple act of carefully combining ingredients through folding can make all the difference in your baking. Anneka’s “Folding Method” ensures your batters don’t become tough. It’s also used to fold aerated mixtures, such as whipped egg whites, through a base mixture. The overall goal is to preserve any air that has been incorporated into a batter or prevent excess gluten development. If you get too hasty, you will pay for it in flat cakes or overly dense muffins. To properly fold, add your wet ingredient mixture to the same bowl as your dry ingredient mixture, according to recipe instructions. Then use a large metal spoon or silicone spatula to cut through, then lift and turn the mixture on itself, repeating until your ingredients are just combined, giving your bowl a quarter turn after each fold.
2. Rubbing Butter into Flour
To master what Anneka calls “The Rubbing-In Method,” you’ll have to get your hands dirty. Butter is cut, or pinched, into a flour mixture with your fingers—a common step in scones, American biscuits, pie dough, and even some pastries. “You are actually coating small chunks of butter with flour rather than combining the two,” Anneka says. “Without knowing how to rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips efficiently and effectively, the resulting recipe can end up being greasy and heavy.” Keep your palms facing upward as you work the mixture with your hands, and pay close attention to the texture that is forming. Aim for the consistency of bread crumbs, with some bigger chunks of butter still in the mix.
3. Making Meringue
It’s no secret that egg whites can be tricky. “The single method that I get asked about the most is ‘The Whisking Egg Whites and Sugar Method,’” Anneka says, referring to a chapter in her book. When done right, this method creates a thick, glossy cloud that can be baked immediately, as a beautiful meringue topping or crisp Pavlova, or folded into other recipes to add height and airiness. Start with a clean bowl and whisk attachment for your stand mixer (any trace of fat—even from egg yolks—will prevent your whites from whipping properly). Beat room temperature egg whites at medium-high speed until soft peaks form, then lower the speed to medium, and gradually add the sugar. Keep beating until all of the sugar is dissolved and the mixture holds a stiff peak. Avoid trying this method on a hot and humid or rainy day—the extra moisture can deflate your fluff.