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In most recipes involving whipped egg whites or whipped cream, you are instructed to fold a the whipped mixture in parts (thirds) into the non-whipped mixture using a spatula. For example, angel food cake or souffle.

But, it is easy to deflate the mixture too much when using a spatula, especially for someone inexperienced, so why not use a whisk? Other than scraping the sides/bottom of the bowl, I don't see any reason why you shouldn't, and you could also use a folding motion while also preventing the mixture from deflating, and combines them faster. Personally, I prefer a whisk.

Is there any other reason to use a spatula over a whisk, or is it just conventional practice?

In other words, is convention correct (based off your experiences)?

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The mechanism of a whisk is very different from a spatula. One is able to very gently fold the ingredients with a spatula while minimizing mixing. A whisk's tines will cause much more damage to the whipped mixture, deflating the fragile bubbles you worked so hard to create. It's really worth practicing with the correct tool. It won't take you long to master this.

Simply cut through the ingredients with the spatula and lift about 1/3 of the mix from the bottom and gently fold over the top, then turn the bowl and repeat. Fold as little as possible to just combine the ingredients. In some recipes complete mixing is not even necessary.

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    Yes, but I don't see how the whisk's tines can cause more damage? The egg whites or cream will have been whipped using a whisk beforehand, whether by hand or by machine. – mbjb Apr 7 at 6:52
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    A whisk does mix anything unless you move it very quickly, which you need to create the air bubbles in the whites. Once you mix other ingredients in being vigorous with any implement will just crush the bubbles, so you need to be gentle. It doesn't have to be a spatula, I use a large spoon, but using a whisk will ruin it very fast. – GdD Apr 7 at 7:42
  • @GdD I use a folding motion to mix with a whisk as well, which avoids vigorous mixing. Using a whisk eliminates the possibility of deflating the mixture whereas with a spatula the risk remains. – mbjb Apr 7 at 13:28
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    @mestackoverflow, you asked whether you need to use something other than a whisk, and have a good, reasoned answer: using a whisk doesn't give good results. If you like using a whisk by all means do so, but you may want to consider that the answer here is correct, and try practicing your folding with something other than a whisk. – GdD Apr 7 at 13:32
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    It's optimistic to assume whipped material stays whipped, as in "been whipped ... beforehand." Whipped egg whites fall as you look away - well, in minutes. That's why you need two beaters, one for the yolks first, the other for the whites (without washing and drying well). If you use one, you can go from whites to yolks - while watching the whites fall. – Yosef Baskin Apr 7 at 19:12
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While the conventional wisdom is to fold with a spatula, several online resources suggest that folding with a whisk actually deflates less.

Epicurious prefers a balloon whisk to a spatula

That rubber spatula seems to take forever to incorporate flour into whites and the whole while, you watch as all the lovely volume you've whipped into your eggs slowly deflates (...) Luckily, there's an alternative to the flat and oomph-killing rubber spatula: the balloon whisk. (...) And thanks to its wide, balloon-shaped wire coils, it preserves the beautiful airiness of whipped eggs while quickly helping you blend in other ingredients.

Cooks Illustrated suggests starting with a whisk and finishing with a spatula

In the test kitchen, we like to start the process by lightening the heavier ingredients with one-quarter or one-third of the whipped mixture. A balloon whisk is ideal for the task: Its tines cut into and loosen the heavier mixture, allowing the whipped mixture to be integrated more readily. Next, the remaining whipped mixture can be easily incorporated into the lightened mixture. For this round of folding, we preserve the airiness of the dessert by using a rubber spatula, which is gentler than a whisk.

I've had good results with whisks especially in the initial process of lightening the batter.

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  • Thank you for posting these. The first article genuinely is recommending a balloon whisk, but then is blatantly selling one at the end of the article. The second article is suggesting using the whisk just for the 1/3 mix (which always gets deflated a lot and is a technique used to make the batter softer to minimize deflating the other 2/3, for which they suggest using a spatula. I've tried both and have better luck with a spatula. But there is no cooking technique on the planet where you won't find different opinions from professional chefs and bakers. Have you tried both & what do you find? – myklbykl Apr 7 at 15:08
  • P.S. I missed your last line but can't edit my comment. Do you prefer a whisk for folding or have you simply been able to make it work? – myklbykl Apr 7 at 15:17
  • I used a whisk in my last souffle recipe and I found it blended the mix more throughly than a spatula with less lost volume. But I am not a frequent souffle maker, so this is not taking from a large number of trials. It would be fun to do a side by side comparison. – 2cents Apr 7 at 15:18
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    I would highly encourage you to do a controlled test and then post your results here. Find a way to measure the volume of the batter and also measure the baked results. You might also take a video of your technique as that could be useful. – myklbykl Apr 7 at 15:23

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