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.


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

  • 1
    I think this is a dupe of Over-stirring muffin mixtures Any objections?
    – Aaronut
    Feb 26, 2013 at 2:39
  • Yeah, I missed that one on my search...
    – Kricket
    Feb 26, 2013 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, 2013 at 13:09
  • @Joe: Thanks, I added the tags to the old question... no wonder it wasn't getting found.
    – Aaronut
    Feb 27, 2013 at 0:42

1 Answer 1


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.

  • Whooo! Where did you learn all this?
    – Kricket
    Feb 25, 2013 at 14:36
  • Just a lot of years being a good geek... this site is a good place to start :-)
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Feb 25, 2013 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, 2013 at 17:19
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    @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, 2013 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, 2013 at 12:00

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