Category: Fun Stuff

Experiment: How Long Does It Take To Whip Cream By Hand?

Experiment: How Long Does It Take To Whip Cream By Hand?

To go with the mug cakes in my last post, Sophronia and I decided to make some whipped cream. Instead of using the stand mixer, though, she wanted to try whipping the heavy cream by hand.

I’ve never tried whipping cream by hand – or really whipping anything by hand, mainly because I always thought it would take a really long time (fifteen to twenty minutes, maybe?), and I am not that patient.

Sophronia is way more persistent and patient than I am, however, and she was extremely determined to prove me wrong (I’ll admit it: I didn’t think it would inflate). Out of curiosity, I started a timer to see how long it took to whip the cream by hand.

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The whipped cream at the beginning of the seven minutes. I forgot to take a picture of the finished product, mainly because we were too busy eating it!

After 6 minutes and 54 seconds, the cream was whipped. I was shocked, and Sophronia was triumphant. I tried some right out of the bowl (remember what I said about me being impatient?) and it was awful – it had a sour taste. Then we folded in some powdered sugar and it tasted amazing – moist and sweet!

Sophronia’s whipped cream totally saved the molten chocolate cakes, and she also established that heavy cream can be turned into whipped cream with only seven minutes of elbow grease! In short, the experiment was extremely successful and informative! Thanks, Sophronia!

an ode to my dying stand mixer

an ode to my dying stand mixer

Oh, my old friend. How sad it is

That this day has come. I remember you in

Your prime:

Rotating gaily and at full speed,

Smashing your way through butter chunks

And tossing those that would not bend to

Your will out of the bowl altogether.

(Oh, the times we had as I picked the dusty


Up off the dirty floor, grinning with pride.)

But now, after four generations of

Use (of being a family member), you are faltering.

With the pungent smell of burning electronics

In the air,

You spin slowly, gently,

Downtrodden by wear and tear.

All things must end, but I will

Remember –

I will never forget learning to bake in your arms,

Nor the first time I ever cleaned your glass bowl.

I will forever see you as a champion,

Bashing the batter into submission,

Churning whirling spinning twirling

Twisting reeling turning wheeling

Rotating forever and ever in

Stand Mixer Heaven.

Despite your lack of a dough hook, I will

Miss you dearly.

Good-bye farewell au revoir arrivederci ciao adios

I love you

A Meditation on Baking Chemistry

A Meditation on Baking Chemistry

I told you I’d get back to you on the role of salt in baking! 🙂

(Is a minorly aggressive I-told-you-so an appropriate way to begin a blog post?)

According to King Arthur Flour (the source of all magnificence), salt has five main purposes in bread-making: it contributes to flavor, tightens the gluten structure, retards the yeast, helps to color the crust, and helps preserve the color and flavor of flour.

The two pieces that interest me are its contribution to flavor and its preservation of the flour’s flavor, because they sound extraordinarily similar but are actually distinctive. As a result, that’s what I’ll be discussing in this post.

(If you’d like to read the full article, find it here.)

First, salt adds to flavor. Further research (using and my amazing Chemistry teacher) informed me that there are five distinct tastes on the human tongue – salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami. However, low concentrations of one flavor can enhance other flavors because cells have multiple receptors for each taste, with different sensitivities for different tastes. This is why if you add salt, you enhance sweet, sour, and umami flavors; hence, if you add salt to an amazing batch of lemon squares, it tastes even MORE lemony and sweet (which can only be a good thing).

Second, salt preserves the flavor of flour. According to King Arthur Flour, flours have carotenoids, and salt (as a preservative) conserves the carotenoids, which can be destroyed during the mixing and kneading process while making bread. (So, add the salt at the beginning of the bread-making process, folks!)

While I was learning about salt, I also researched another aspect of baking chemistry that interests me: baking powder!

In short, baking powder is made of NaHCO3, or baking soda, with cream of tartar and other leaveners. When it reacts with an acid, baking powder produces carbon dioxide, which then inflates your baked good. The gluten in flour traps the carbon dioxide, stretches, and, once baked, stays in place to preserve the structure of the bread. (This is why baking gluten-free is hard, since the lack of gluten makes achieving a decent rise difficult.)

Wait! There’s more! What about baked goods with baking powder that DO NOT contain acids? (Insert gasp here!)

It turns out that most recipes with baking powder will call for eggs, and eggs are mildly acidic, so there is an acid present after all. But the acid only speeds up the reaction turning the baking powder into carbon dioxide; basically, using an acid makes your cookie/bread/brownie puffier. If you don’t use an acid, your cookies will simply rise less and be flatter.

Of course, most breads use yeast. The yeast, like the baking powder, also produces carbon dioxide via cellular respiration; it just does so before going into the oven. This is why rising times are so important (besides being ideal intervals in which one should complete her mountain of homework).

So, there you have it! If you ever have any questions about baking chemistry, let me know and I’ll do another post!