Everyone who has tried to prepare homemade whipped cream has faced the same problem: the cream won't peak. Sometimes, we tend to keep whipping in a desperate attempt to get some peaks and we end up with butter. “What's wrong with this stupid cream?” we yell in frustration. If you've been in this situation, you also know the simple solution: chill the bowl and beaters before you begin and use cold cream. But, do you know why this works?
|Image by Rhett Sutphin|
Cream is an emulsion containing around 35% of fat. To make whipped cream, we want to introduce air into that emulsion and we want it to stay inside, forming those wonderful peaks we love. During agitation, air bubbles are surrounded by fat globules, forming chains and clusters and stabilizing them. If the temperature is too high, the flat globules melt and the structure collapses. That's why we want everything to be cold.
|Image by Christine Rondeau|
Professor Goff, PhD, from the University of Guelph, offers a deeper and very scientific description of this process. If you're interested, you can check it out here. What I'd like to share with you is a wonderful microscopic image of whipped cream, offered by Prof. Goff in his website. It let's us see how the fat globules cluster around the air bubbles at three different scales.
|Image by Prof. Goff, University of Guelph|
To me, every single cooking trick has a scientific explanation and it's very interesting to me. So, how about you? Do you find scientific trivia interesting too?