Chef Manish Khanna talks about the rules of baking

Updated: Mar 10, 2019, 08:49 IST | Nasrin Modak Siddiqi

Baking is about the magic of eggs and air coming together in a perfect mix, says Chef Manish Khanna

Chef Manish Khanna talks about the rules of baking

When you mix flour, fat, and sugar with eggs and bake it, you'll get an edible product, but chances are, it isn't enough to make you go wow. Maybe, you have beating the eggs all wrong. As chef Manish Khanna, founder and partner, Brownie Point, explains, "Aerating is the key to good baking and is achieved by using biological agents (yeast), chemical agents (baking powder, baking soda), mechanical methods (using a blender and whisking or beating), and physical contributions (by lamination of fat).

These days, a standard mixer with a whisk attachment, hand-held whisk or hand-held beaters are normally used. But we all remember our mothers using forks or the traditional round spring beaters for aeration of eggs. Those required more physical strength but in the end, the product wasn't as smooth and consistent." If you do want to beat the eggs to perfection, here's what chef Khanna suggests.

For brownies, do not change the direction of beating, says chef Manish Khanna. Pics/Sameer Markande
For brownies, do not change the direction of beating, says chef Manish Khanna. Pics/Sameer Markande

In the case of sponge cakes, eggs are beaten up to act as a leavening agent to make it soft and smooth. Beat in one direction and at high speed, so as to incorporate the air. Ribbon consistency is created by beating egg with a little sugar using an electric beater, stand mixer or a hand whisk, and is a technique good for genoise sponge. Use a bain marie (heated bath equipment) with warm water underneath the vessel used for whipping, as it will help dissolve the sugar in the mix and give a better crumb.

A brownie doesn't have any leavening agent added to it because the eggs in it are not whisked and aerated, but beaten up. This gives the brownie the typical mushy texture. Beat well with the sugar and do not change the direction of beating, as when you change direction, you start losing air.

Bakery items such as croissants or puffs don't need eggs to be aerated as their aeration is done by lamination or folding of fat in the dough to create layers. We just need the egg yolk and white to be unified as one and this mixing can be done with a fork, without worrying about the direction. Chef Khanna says, "If the rules are not followed and the eggs are not aerated well, you could end up with a sponge that is too dense, brownie that isn't gooey and croissant that isn't flaky." He suggests that the eggs are beaten at room temperature and to always use fresh eggs as they will whip up faster.

In recipes that require eggs to be beaten separately, he suggests, "take care while folding in the ingredients as overmixing could result in formation of large holes in the cake an uneven grain, as well as loss in volume." For whipping egg whites, "beat in a copper bowl as the ions from copper help stabilise the egg whites. If it isn't available, cream of tarter works just as fine. Just don't overbeat, as the stretched proteins will break and let the water in the whites out, creating an unappetising mix of eggy water and foam. Ensure the bowl and whisk are oil free and yolk free as oil or yolk will prevent the egg whites from reaching their full volume," he adds.

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