What 'Overmixing' Means In Baking Recipes

Some recipe instructions are frustratingly vague. When it comes to baking, the phrase "be careful not to overmix" is fairly common, but it's not always clear what that means. This rule of thumb will help if you're confused.

The next time you dive into a baking recipe and encounter the "over-mixing" enigma, Nicole Weston at Baking Bites suggests you simply "do the minimum amount of mixing necessary to make a uniform dough." That's it! Just be sure to crape down the sides, make sure there are no streaks of flour left in the mixing bowl.

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What Is Overmixing? [Baking Bites via Food52]


    This article could have been so much more.

    Not over-mixing batter usually relates to not wanting gluten to form from the flour. The more you mix, the more gluten is formed. Look at bread, for instance... you knead bread to purposely form lots of gluten. This gives the bread structure and makes it dense and chewy. It's also great for cookies, but for recipes like cake or scones (that don't need lots of gluten) they will tell you not to over-mix. Most of the time, you don't want a chewy, dense cake.

      The gluten is already there in the flour, it's part of the system the seed uses to store energy. You want to avoid it forming an interlinked elastic network of gluten strands, which is what happens as a mix of flour and water is worked. Or to be more accurate, you want it to form just the right amount of elastic network for your recipe, as some amount of gluten will usually be necessary to hold things together.

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