Adding Flour and Liquids Alternatively


Why do recipes always say you should add the flour and liquid ingredients alternatively, starting and ending with flour? Why can't I begin or end with the liquid?

Also, why do recipes call for you to mix the dry ingredients together and add them to the mixed wet ingredients? I think it is because you don't want to overbeat the mixture once the flour is added, but I would love a clarification.

Thanks so much,

badge posted by: kelsmith on August 29, 2010 at 5:44 pm in Q & A
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reply by: PJHA on August 29, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Good questions - We've recently been discussing in the test kitchen whether it's really necessary to mix flour, salt, baking powder, soda, etc. before adding. And at least two of us have decided it's just as effective to add the salt, baking powder, etc. to the wet ingredients separately, stirring them in thoroughly. The only reason I can think NOT to do this would be if one of those ingredients is lumpy; whisking it with flour first would smooth out any lumps.

As for adding flour and liquids alternately, there's usually more flour than liquid, which is why you start and end with flour. And the reason you do it is to not "shock" the air bubbles out of your batter by just dumping a whole lot of flour (or splashing a whole lot of liquid) into the batter at once. Adding those ingredients a little at a time preserves the air bubbles, which in turn make your cake (or muffins) light.

Hope this helps-

reply by: KIDPIZZA on August 30, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Good morning. I will try to give you the answer you are wanting to know. First off when baking a butter cake it would behoove that baker to employ "BLEACHED FLOUR". In any other type of baking it would be best to employ "UNBLEACHED FLOUR" at all times.(except cake flour which is bleached & bromated.) As it would help the situation as I am going to describe. One reason we alternate is because the buttery base of this type of recipe does not absorb a lot of liquid very easily.If the butter is forced to absorb to much liquid, probably from the eggs the butter can only hold so much liquid.. the result will be a separation of the batter. When this happens you will have a heavy cake. We begin by adding the flour first as it brings the batter together it helps absorb the excess liquids & prevents the batter from separating. The butter then clings to the bleached flour & helps the concoction not to become heavy or concentrated in any one particular way. The ingredients must have a certain ratio to each other in order to "MAKE A VIABLE CAKE" OR IT WILL FAIL AS A BAKED PRODUCT.
I hope this explanation will help you understand more about ingredients & cake baking is the best I can do.
Good luck & enjoy the rest of the day.

then follow flour liquid flour liquid flour

reply by: Naughtysquirrel on August 30, 2010 at 4:39 pm

K=Pizza..that was vey interesting..I always wondered why I was instructed to add one egg at a time and beat between eggs..know I know ..thanx.....NS

reply by: kelsmith on August 30, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Thanks so much, that really helps. I always just followed the recipe, but I always wondered why. Now I know.