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Whisking vs Sifting?

Lorry13 Mar 19, 2011 06:30 PM

Is it true that I can whisk the dry ingredients for a cookie recipe instead of sifting them together? I don't own a sifter and I didnt know if to just not bother sifting or try the whisking which a couple of websites mentioned.

Thanks for any help!

  1. c oliver Mar 20, 2011 06:38 PM

    I have a sifter, several sieves and whisks. Whatever the recipe tells me to do, I do. No big deal. And, of course, if precise measurements of dry ingredients are called for, then I use my scale. I try not to overthink these things :)

    4 Replies
    1. re: c oliver
      Lorry13 Mar 20, 2011 07:20 PM

      If you have a grand kitchen and money to spare I guess that's the best way. However as a single person living in a one bedroom apt on a tight student budget I can't go on buying every single gadget called for in a recipe....someday but not anytime soon =)

      1. re: Lorry13
        c oliver Mar 20, 2011 07:25 PM

        My sifter was my mother's, the sieves I've had for decades, whisks come and go. If I had to do without one,, which I don't, I guess it would be the sifter. But as I said, when amounts are critical, then I weigh---with a cheapy digital scale.

        1. re: c oliver
          racer x Mar 22, 2011 10:45 AM

          I've bought several sifters in the past few years, and they've all broken after just a few uses. I wish I could find one like the ones my mother and great aunts used to have.

          The question I have about whisking as a substitute for sifting, say for making a cake, is that since whisking is a kind of stirring, and in stirring denser particles fall to the bottom, don't you run a risk of not properly mixing the dry ingredients if you whisk them instead of sift them?

          1. re: racer x
            paulj Mar 22, 2011 11:09 AM

            'In stirring denser particles fall to the bottom'? For certain styles of stirring, and certain mixes that might be true, but it isn't always the case. When you stir a liquid suspension, the denser particles settle out first, but we are talking about a dry mixture. And in the case of cake dry ingredients, how much of difference is there in density?

    2. chef chicklet Mar 20, 2011 02:50 PM

      I don't sift dry ingredients for cookies. But other baked items I've done both, I don't see a noticeable difference at all.

      1 Reply
      1. re: chef chicklet
        addicted2cake Mar 22, 2011 08:49 AM

        Same for me.

      2. l
        Lorry13 Mar 20, 2011 12:17 PM

        Thank you all for your responses!

        My cookies just came out of the oven and they are divine =)

        1. v
          vafarmwife Mar 20, 2011 08:18 AM

          I have sifted and I have whisked. The only difference i can see is that sifting makes the flour more fine. If you are just wanting to incorporate all the dry ingredients, I think whisking is fine.

          2 Replies
          1. re: vafarmwife
            todao Mar 20, 2011 09:31 AM

            While sifting does not create a finer texture in the flour (that would require additional grinding) it does incorporate air into the flour to make it lighter and fluffier, thereby increasing its total mass while reducing its bulk. A sifted cup of flour will weigh less than a scooped cup of flour.
            That said, as you pointed out, if you're simply incorporating ingredients you can be confident that thoroughly and gently whisking instead of sifting will work just fine.

            1. re: todao
              paulj Mar 20, 2011 12:21 PM

              " thereby increasing its total mass while reducing its bulk" - you should patent this process! :)

          2. chowser Mar 20, 2011 07:50 AM

            Yes--but make sure to "fluff" the flour before measuring so it's not packed down and you get an accurate measure, if you're not weighing your ingredients.

            1. kattyeyes Mar 20, 2011 06:06 AM

              I don't have a "real" sifter, either. When I want to be precise, I'll use a fine-mesh sieve. One of my favorite tricks for making brownies, though (the Ghirardelli recipe on the canister is my go-to), is to keep an empty Ghirardelli canister, add the dry ingredients and shake the living daylights out of it! :)

              1. l
                LaureltQ Mar 19, 2011 06:47 PM

                I don't have a specific sifter. I use a wire mesh strainer ( I only have wire colanders for this specific reason) to sift.

                1. Caitlin McGrath Mar 19, 2011 06:33 PM

                  Whisking is wholly effective for cookies and most quick breads and muffins, where you are not looking for the lightness of a cake. I never sift dry ingredients for cookies, and rarely for quick breads.

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