An extremely patient reader by the name of Bee put in a request several weeks ago about whipping cream. She asked me if I could demonstrate the differences between lightly whipped cream, cream whipped to “soft peaks” and cream whipped to “firm peaks”. Since I’m whipping cream (and talking cream) for this week’s topic, I thought now would be a good time.
By far the easiest way to whip cream is with a stand mixer or a hand mixer. You can do it with a whisk, but it requires a good deal of arm strength and stamina. You want to start with extremely cold, heavy cream, since cold milk fat holds it shape better when it’s whipped. Some pastry makers even chill the bowls of their mixers, which is an inconvenience, but a good idea. So then, pouring your cold cream into your cold mixer bowl, turn your mixer (fitted with a whip) up to medium-high and begin whipping.
After about a minute and a half, you’ll get foam, but a rather soupy sort of foam. Inserting a spoon…
…you’ll see it’ll just fall off it like so. You’ll see small mounds, but they’ll disappear pretty quickly. This is “lightly whipped” cream, great for chocolate mousse. I like to put it in my scone mixes, too.
Keep going another 30 seconds or so and the cream will get firmer. So much so that when you dip in the whip…
…then quickly remove it, you get rather tall “peaks” that quickly flop over. This is the “soft peak” stage.
Continuing on and the cream starts to take on an entirely difference character. Deep “trenches” start to form as the cream firms up and stops flowing:
This is often called “stiff peaks” though you really don’t get “peaks” when you remove the whip, just clumps of whipped cream. This is about as firm as I can whip this cream before it starts turning into butter, but there’s a separate tutorial for that.