Whipping Egg Whites: Soft vs. Stiff Peaks

Totally clueless when a recipe calls for egg whites with soft or stiff peaks?


Soft-peak stage: Egg whites are in the soft-peak stage when the mixture mounds but has no shape.

Medium-peak stage: At medium-peak stage,  the mixture is thicker and stands but still bends.

Stiff-peak stage: It has reached stiff-peak stage when the mixture stands and you can turn the bowl upside-down without the mixture falling out. If you overwhip, the mixture breaks down and gets very dry and frothy, resembling bubbles you get when washing clothes.

How do you achieve each stage?
egg whites from about 9 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
       (a few drops of lemon juice or calamansi juice will also work;
        these are all acids, which act as stabilizers).

Separate the egg white from the yolk while they’re cold (it's easier; when they're super fresh, separating at room temperature is fine), but whip them at room temperature.  Lastly, make sure that your equipment is absolutely grease-free and dry.

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Using an electric mixer, whip egg whites at medium speed until somewhat frothy.

Add cream of tartar (or citrus juice), then whip at medium-high speed until foamy.

3  Once the mixture is foamy, slowly add half of the sugar and turn up the speed. (Do not dump the sugar all at once.)

4  When the sugar and egg whites have combined, lower the speed and slowly add the rest of the sugar.

5  Once combined, stop whipping. This is the soft-peak stage.

Continue whipping. When the egg white stands but still bends, you've reached the medium-peak stage.

To make stiff peaks: Keep whipping until the mixture is thick and glossy.

For a demonstration, click on the slideshow!

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