Take the 2-minute tour ×
Seasoned Advice is a question and answer site for professional and amateur chefs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

This question already has an answer here:

Certain recipes (for example, corn bread, buttermilk biscuits) caution against overmixing: you're supposed to add the wet ingredients to the dry with a minimum of agitation.

Why?

And, is this related to why my friend's recipe for cornbread states that "some lumpiness is preferred"?

share|improve this question

marked as duplicate by Joe, SAJ14SAJ, Jefromi, Mien, KatieK Feb 26 '13 at 19:22

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

1  
I think this is a dupe of Over-stirring muffin mixtures Any objections? –  Aaronut Feb 26 '13 at 2:39
    
Yeah, I missed that one on my search... –  Kelsey Rider Feb 26 '13 at 10:35
    
@Aaronut : if the merging doesn't add in the tags here, it's probably worth adding these tags to the older one. –  Joe Feb 26 '13 at 13:09
    
@Joe: Thanks, I added the tags to the old question... no wonder it wasn't getting found. –  Aaronut Feb 27 '13 at 0:42
add comment

1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

In the type of recipe you reference, all of which are quick breads, the result is supposed to be tender, not chewy.

Wheat flour has proteins in it, which if agitated in the presence of water, will combine to form a new protein, gluten, which is very chewy. Sometimes, this is desirable as in yeast raised bread, where the gluten forms the structure of the bread, and gives it its bite and chewiness. In fact, this is why (most) yeast raised breads are kneaded.

Gluten development is not desirable in tender quick breads, like cornbread or banana bread. Biscuits are a type of quick bread where the lumps of butter will promote flakiness, but you still want a tender crumb.

The flour and the liquids are combined as quickly as possible, with the least reasonably possible agitation, to minimize the development of gluten, and thus maximize tenderness.

The idea of leaving some lumps is to help prevent over mixing, and thus toughening the product. Even if there are some small lumps of unmixed flour, the liquid from the batter will penetrate them in a few minutes during baking, and they will not be a factor in the final product.

share|improve this answer
    
Whooo! Where did you learn all this? –  Kelsey Rider Feb 25 '13 at 14:36
    
Just a lot of years being a good geek... this site is a good place to start :-) –  SAJ14SAJ Feb 25 '13 at 14:36
    
@KelseyRider if you are interested in this subject, I'd recommend reading Bread Baker's Apprentice: amazon.co.uk/Bread-Bakers-Apprentice-Cutting-edge-Techniques/dp/… It took my bread baking skills to the next levels. –  olafure Feb 25 '13 at 17:19
2  
@olafure: It's a great book, sure, but this question isn't really about bread. IIRC the BBA doesn't talk much about quick breads like muffins, waffles, etc. –  Aaronut Feb 26 '13 at 2:41
    
I agree with @Aaronut. If you want to get a bit behind food science without delving too deep into any single subject, I would suggest Cookwise, not BBA. –  rumtscho Feb 26 '13 at 12:00
show 2 more comments

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.