Whipping Cream

This post is the sequel to the number one runaway smash hit: Whipping Egg Whites which appeared in this space a couple of weeks ago. I meant to respond to all the requests earlier but I didn’t have any cream and was too lazy to go get some. Also Mrs. Pastry was put out enough as it was. Ever efficient, she deplores waste in all its forms. Which makes me wonder why she keeps me around at all. But that’s a post for another day.

Here again I have a small bowl with a hand mixer, which is what you want if you’re truly serious about whipping in your home kitchen. Larger machines just don’t do small quantities well. Anyway, pour the desired quantity into the bowl. A cold bowl is a nice-to-have but not essential.

Starting on low I gradually turn up the speed to about half power until the cream starts to get more viscous as air bubbles are incorporated and lipid molecules start to collect around them. This is where I get after about a 45 seconds, note the small “peaks”, but this isn’t really “soft peaks” yet since it’s still pretty flowing. Some people like sweetened cream of this slightly drippy texture on pie or fresh berries. Who am I to argue? This is the point where I usually add a sweetener (like sugar) or a stabilizer (like gelatin).

Another 20 seconds or so and I am well and truly at the soft peak stage for whipped cream. You could theoretically pipe this but it’s still a little loose for that purpose. Still, this is a great dessert topping consistency.

Another 20-30 seconds past that and suddenly the semi-fluid mass turns into a semi-solid mass. It collects around the beaters in clumps and clings fast to a spoon, even when held upside-down. This is technically “stiff peaks” but in fact it’s so stiff that it can’t form “peaks” as we pastry people think of them, more like big clods. But “stiff clods” lacks musicality.

Cream of this texture is about perfect for piping. See?

How do you know when you’ve gone too far? Well the good news is that it takes a good minute or more of concerted whipping before you can ruin it. Know the danger signs when you start losing volume. This is a sign that the fat masses around the bubbles are starting to merge together. Clumpy curd-like masses start flying to the sides of the bowl and the whole thing takes on a yellow milk fat hue. See?

This is no good for piping or topping desserts, though you could in theory spread it on toast. Any takers? Mrs. Pastry will want someone to do something with this…

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12 Responses to Whipping Cream

  1. Shilpa says:

    over whipped cream can be rescued by adding some more cream and hand whipping, or just used to make homemade butter in a processor.

    • joepastry says:

      There’s that same tip again…didn’t know it worked with cream as well. Thanks, Shilpa!

      Cheers,

      - Joe

  2. Eva says:

    Thanks Joe!
    This is very helpful! I have always been scared to even get to the “stiff peaks” stage as I thought that stage was the “butter” stage. I see now that it might be useful for piping. Tell me… how would a stabilizer such as gelatin affect the “stiff peaks” stage? Would you just get there sooner?
    If I could, I would totally take the last bowl pictured for toast or bagels or even mashed potatoes.

    Eva

  3. Mari says:

    Can’t you turn that into (sweetened) homemade butter and buttermilk? Add some cinnamon and salt to the butter for cinnamon butter, and use the sweetened buttermilk for baking, removing a little sugar from the original recipe.

  4. LML says:

    When my cream turns to butter I squeeze out the liquid and use the butter to make cookies. (I’d use the buttermilk, too, but it isn’t acidic.) Butter happens when you like your cream in “big clod” texture, the setting sun is blasting into the kitchen and someone forgets to pay attention.

  5. Chelsea says:

    I’ve always wondered whether “overwhipped” cream could just become the base for buttercream frosting. If it’s basically butter anyway, can’t you just add some more sugar, keep it going, and end up with something silky to spread between cake layers?

    • joepastry says:

      Hey Chelsea!

      It’s a good idea though in the end it’ll be too “wet” to make a good buttercream. Still I wouldn’t turn it down on toast!

      Try it and let me know what you think!

      Cheers,

      - Joe

  6. OB says:

    From honeybees to laundering to CCD (I always thought that was a medium-format camera sensor) and now to whipped cream, I must say Joe, this blog is turning into quite the resource – you deserve a medal! I’ve found that with whipping cream – if you have one of those multi-tasking food processor handles (the ones that can be attached to a food-processor, a balloon whisk, or a circular blade with a long neck thus forming an immersion blender), you can simply use the tall, thin vessel that comes with these and simply whip cream pretty quick. The narrowness of the vessel means that if your cream is cold, it will whip within seconds – so fast in fact that a newbie could easily get the cream to break down (as I painfully learnt on my first trial). It’s super-efficient, though perhaps a little more so than some would want it to be. Great blog, Joe!

  7. Tonia says:

    When I first started baking professionally I didn’t realize that commercial whipping cream was higher in butter fat than retail whipping cream and made “butter” in no-time flat!! Oops!

    • joepastry says:

      Amazing how the world of baking is filled with all those sorts of little pitfalls. I remember the first time I worked with a commercial convection oven…I burned about $50 worth of pine nuts in one go. Who knew the things were so efficient?

      Other better informed people I guess. Still, it didn’t seem fair.

      - Joe

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