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Nov 1, 2007 03:23 PM

stiff but not dry.... egg whites, that is

what exactly does this mean? what do dry, beaten egg whites look like? and is this a point of no return? are there any uses for these, or any recipes that require dry whites, or this purely an error o be avoided?

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  1. This from Rose Levy Beranbaum, will answer your questions (and mine!):

    6 Replies
    1. re: Pat Hammond

      thanks for that link! But I defied Rose Levy... I managed to overbeat even WITH cream of tartar. The only thing I have learned from my cooking history is to not understimate my personal potential for disaster.

      1. re: alex8alot

        Are you beating them by hand or with a stand mixer? I use some very specific instructions for the latter from Madeleine Kamman - happy to post if it would be useful to you. If you are trying to achieve stiff peaks - I keep an eye on them as they start to turn glossy/shiny, and then test by pulling out the whisk attachment to see if said peaks have formed - if they are done, you can turn the bowl upside down and nothing will fall out. To me, the dry stage looks like the eggs are starting to break down again. Also - are you making them for something sweet - if so, I think the sugar also helps them reach the right "stage".

        1. re: MMRuth

          I use a stand mixer, so I can't really flip the bowl upside down without making a huge mess (the mixer part doesn't lift up so I have to drag the whisk out, and half the egg whites with it to get the bowl out). I will try to watch the glossy/shiny thing. Are the Madeleine Kamman instructions more specific than that?

          1. re: alex8alot

            I also have a stand mixer - where the mixer part doesn't lift up - I just release the whisk part, hold on to it, and invert. The MK instructions are more specific than that (LOL) and I will post them. Are you using a KitchenAid (I think the directions vary depending upon the type of machine)?

            1. re: MMRuth

              OK - she has instructions for Mixmaster, KitchenAid and electric hand mixers - here are the ones for a Kitchen Aid:

              Stage 1: At Speed 3, beat 1-4 whites for 1 minute, or for 5 and more for 2 minutes.

              Add Acid (1/8 tsp cream of tartar for 4-6 whites)

              Stage 2: For 1-4 whites, 3 minutes, Speed 8, or for 5 or more, 3-4 minutes, Speed 6.

              Add Sugar (1 T only if needed)

              Stage 3: Beat 15 seconds - 1-4 whites at Speed 8, 5 or more whites, Speed 6.

              She also discusses the "sugar fix" - a repair method for eggs that are on the verge of being over beaten or that have been overbeaten. Add 1 or so T of sugar to the foam just before the end of the beating. The texture will cahnge "as the sugar mixes with the water seepting slowly from the proteins to form a syrup viscous enough to rehomogenize and restabalize for a few minutes." Use immediately - otherwise "it will break down again in the worst of ways".

              Reminds me of why I like her book too much, and ought to consult it more often.

              Another tip from her about when the egg whites are beaten enough - "an uncooked egg in its shell sinks only 1/4 inch deep into the foam. the foam is overbeaten if the same egg sits on top of it w/o sinking in at all."

              1. re: MMRuth

                thank you so much mmruth. I have the kitcheniad, so it's perfect. I can't believe that there are specific instructions for each brand! You have saved me much grief and head-scratching wondering.

    2. As a baker, and even a saucier, knowing this point is like knowing chilled from frozen, simmer from hard boil. It is a learning thing. And SO worth knowing. Practise, play, do...learn. The link posted is great.

      1. The Julia Child trick for knowing the right point, and the one I've always used, is the moment at which you can flip the bowl upside down and they don't fall out. This requires stopping frequently as you get close and s l o w l y tipping the bowl to see if the beaten whites start sliding. If they do, beat 'em for another few seconds and try again, until you can get the bowl completely upside down.

        Also, kind of fun.