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How to whip light cream properly? (Professional Guide)

As usual, a brief introduction to light cream before talking about whipping.
Light cream, like milk powder and butter, is a type of dairy product. Milk is artificially separated into skimmed milk and thin cream, and the thin cream is extracted and added to emulsifiers and stabilisers to make light cream for whipping
So commercially available whipped cream generally has additives, it is just a matter of how much, some brands do not even indicate on the ingredients.

As a rule, light cream consists mainly of 60% water and around 35% milk fat, with a small amount of milk solids and additives. However, the milk fat content is not always the same and varies from brand to brand, basically between 30% and 50%.
This is because milk contains fat-soluble pigments such as carotenoids, which dissolve in the milk fat and are extracted together. Excessive yellowing can affect the aesthetics of the final framed cake, so we need to pay more attention when choosing light cream.

It can be used as a liquid ingredient in desserts without whipping, providing moisture and fat while also acting as an emulsifier, and like egg yolks it has good emulsifying properties which slow down the ageing of desserts. It can also be mixed with other ingredients to make fillings, such as ganache and many runnels, which are often made with light cream.
The main uses for whipped light cream are for framed cakes, mousse cakes and cream fillings. The classic castaway is made with 90% whipped light cream and castaway sauce.

Well, that’s a lot of light cream, now let’s talk about the principle of whipping light cream.
The milk fat in light cream is in the form of tiny particles. By churning the balls of milk fat against each other, they form a web-like structure that wraps around the air and becomes whipped, and the hardness increases.

So what are the factors that affect the whipping of light cream?

  1. Milk fat content. The higher the milk fat content, the more fat particles there are, the easier it is to whip and the more stable it is (i.e. it doesn’t deform easily after whipping).
    However, light creams that are too high in milk fat have a richer taste, so those who prefer a lighter taste can choose a light cream with a slightly lower milk fat content.
  2. Light cream temperature and room temperature. Light cream needs to be refrigerated for a long time (more than 12 hours) before whipping to bring the temperature down to 3 °C to 5 °C, but remember not to freeze it. It is easier to whip at this temperature range, and it is important to cool it down during the whipping process by placing a large bowl with some ice and water under the whipping vessel, making sure that the ice and water is evenly spread around the vessel.
    The whipped cream also needs to be kept at a low temperature to maintain its stability. The room temperature should be kept below 25°C. In hot weather the air conditioning needs to be turned on as this is a key factor to ensure successful whipping.
  3. Different brands. For different brands of light cream, there is a difference in how easy it is to whip due to the different milk sources, milk fat content and additives.

Sugar is usually added to whipped cream for two main purposes – to increase the stability of the cream by using the water retention of caster sugar, and to increase the sweetness and taste.
Because light cream is whipped at low temperatures, coarser sugar does not dissolve easily, so only fine caster sugar or icing sugar can be added. If you add fine sugar, add it before whipping, so that it dissolves more fully. If it is powdered sugar, you can add it after whipping for a while to shorten the whipping time.
Light cream whipping is not the same as egg whipping, the more sugar you add, the more stable it is.

  • Raw Materials

Light cream 0.4 lb
Fine sugar 0.7 oz

  • Steps

1. Refrigerate the light cream overnight, keep the beating bowl clean and add water and ice to a separate large bowl.

2. Add the light cream and sugar to a large bowl of ice-cold water and lower the temperature.

3. When the sugar is fully dissolved, turn up the speed to medium and whip, which will produce more large bubbles.

4. Continue to whip on medium speed, when the large bubbles gradually disappear and a slight ripple starts to appear, you will feel resistance when you turn the whisk by hand and you should start to pay attention to lifting the whisk at any time to watch it.

5.If the light cream turns from a milk-like liquid to a slightly thicker consistency with veins, lifting the whisk will pick up some of the light cream and it will continue to slide off, it is 60% whipped and ready to be used for mousse.
It only takes a very short time for the cream to go from 60% to 100%, so from 60% onwards we can switch to a manual whisk to get a better rhythm. Different electric beaters have different speeds, I used a Heinz hm330 and it took me just over 2 minutes to reach 60% with a combination of 1 and 2 speeds.

6. Switch to a hand whisk and whip for a short time (about 1 to 2 minutes), you will feel the lines start to deepen, lifting the whisk will bring up more light cream, and the light cream will fall slowly and intermittently, like a snowflake, tilting the beating bowl the light cream flows slowly, this is 70% whipped, the whipped light cream can be used to make the cake spread.

7. The 70% whipped light cream flows slowly by tilting the beaten bowl.

8. Continue to whip manually, the light cream is getting thicker and thicker, it has started to change from liquid to solid, the lines can be kept without disappearing, tilting the beating bowl hardly flows.
Lift the whisk and the light cream sticks to the whisk in large pieces, like wet peaks of egg white, with long curved sharp corners, at this point it is 80% and can be used for sandwiching and framing cakes. Because the process of squeezing out the light cream when framing is also equivalent to whipping, it is important not to over-whip in this step if you want to achieve a smooth framed look, otherwise the framed shape will be rough and grainy.

9. 80% whipped light cream has a pronounced texture.

10. 80% whipped light cream tilting the whisk barely flows.

11. Then whip until the light cream is solid, by this time it will be very stiff, lift the whisk and it will stay on the whisk with a short upright angle, at this point it is 90% ready to be used with the custard to make a custard filling.

12. The 90% whipped light cream is stiff in texture.

13. The 90 whipped light cream is solid and does not budge when the bowl is tilted.

14. We rarely whip light cream to 100% whipping, when the whipped cream will stick to the whisk in large chunks and will not be smooth and shiny, it will start to become rough and close to over-whipped, then the whipping will be in a state of oil and water separation.

15. The 100% whipped light cream is no longer glossy.

16. If you accidentally whip it to the point where the oil separates from the water, you will have to use new light cream again for framed cakes. However, we can use the over-whipped light cream for butter and buttermilk.
For this step we start by switching to an electric whisk and continue whipping until a clear yellow solid and a clearer liquid are separated. Then take a cotton cloth with fine holes and wrap it around the yellow solids and squeeze out the excess liquid, leaving the yellow solids as butter and the liquid part as buttermilk.
The resulting butter and buttermilk will only keep refrigerated for about 3 days.

17. Complete oil and water separation.

18. Squeeze out the butter from the buttermilk with a tatting tent.

Get the butter


1. The easiest and most effective way to judge the degree of whipping is to lift the whisk and observe the state of the cream on the beating head, so it’s easy to get a feel for the hardness of the cream when it’s being whipped and lift the whisk frequently to observe the state.

2. The state of the cream changes very quickly after 60%, so it is important to lift the whisk every few seconds to observe the state of the cream when the electric whisk is on low speed.

There are no shortcuts to becoming proficient at whipping light cream, it’s just a matter of practising and summing up. The same goes for framed cakes. Theoretical learning only gives us the foundation, with solid training we can take it to the next level.

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