Why You Should Always Start Your Mixer on a Low Speed

A slow start is the secret to a full, voluminous meringue.

Mixing with Hand Mixer
Photo: Getty Images

In the world of pastry, you can accomplish so much more with the help of some handy tools. Sure, you could spend 10 minutes whipping cream by hand, but why not take all the elbow grease out of it and have perfect whipped cream in half the time? For these labor-intensive tasks, a stand mixer can be your saving grace.

Sleek KitchenAid mixers have been fixtures on our countertops for centuries, and for good reason. There are certain results that you just can't achieve by hand—or you can, but it takes much more time and intensive labor. Kneading bread dough, for example, is much faster and easier with the help of a stand mixer. Whipping egg whites for a meringue is virtually impossible without a mixer with a whisk attachment.

We're of the opinion that, if you're an avid baker, a stand mixture is one piece of equipment that you should absolutely have in your home kitchen. But once you invest in this piece of equipment—which can be pricey—it's important to know how to use it properly. From a cleaning check-list to baking techniques, we have you covered on all the things you need to know about your stand mixer. Today, we're bringing you a piece of wisdom that we cannot emphasize enough: Always start your mixer on a low speed.

Benefits of Starting Your Mixer at a Low Speed

Many tasks you'll use your stand mixer for will call for a medium to high speed—whipping egg whites, for instance. But when you want to get your mixer to a higher speed, it's important to work your way up—we're not going from 0 to 100 real quick, folks. Here's why.

Starting Low is Better For Your Mixer's Mechanics

First off, gradually increasing the speed of your mixer rather than jumping to a high speed immediately is better for the machinery of the mixer. Switching the speed too quickly overworks the engine, which will wear the mixer down over time. If you want your mixer to last a good while, be sure to shift speeds gradually.

You'll Achieve a More Voluminous Result

Not only does starting your mixer on a low speed prolong the life of your stand mixer, but it also has a beneficial effect on your baked goods. Let's use meringue as a case study. Whipping too much air into your egg whites right out of the gate will result in a foamier, thinner meringue, whereas starting the mixer on a slow speed then working up to a high speed can result in a meringue with up to 10% more volume.

But why is this the case? The explanation rests in science. "Beating egg whites slowly at the beginning causes their proteins to loosen up," notes Cook's Illustrated. "Like stretching a balloon before trying to inflate it, the improved elasticity allows the proteins to take on air more easily and eventually gain more volume."

This isn't just the case for whipped egg whites—the same goes for whipped cream, which will result in a fluffier, more voluminous product when started on a low speed. The next time you're making a batch of chiffon cake or whipped cream, start the mixer off slow before switching gears. You might just achieve your best results yet.

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