In the cooking and baking world, there are numerous terms with exclusive meanings that are only applicable within the kitchen. Learning culinary lingo is advisable if you want to follow and execute a recipe properly. Ribbons used in the baking world are a way to test the consistence of certain food items.
Ribbon is a word used in baking to describe a particular consistency of a sauce or batter. This texture will be thick and fluffy enough to lift up but it will still have enough fluidity to slowly fall back and blend with the mixture. When you reach the ribbon stage, your mixture will fall in a flat, ribbon-like pattern when drizzled over the bowl, thus giving it the name.
Ribbons are used to test if an egg and sugar mixture has reached a certain stage during the whipping process. Whipping the eggs until they reach the ribbon stage will help prevent the egg yolks from becoming granular when the mixture is placed in or under a heat source, such as the oven. The ribbon test is often performed on bake batters and hollandaise sauce, but it can be performed on almost any mixture that requires you to whip eggs.
How It Works
As the whisk attachment moves through the mixture, it adds air bubbles to the egg whites and yolk. This will increase the volume of the mixture. When there is enough air spread throughout, the batter will turn a pale yellow color and will be thick and fluffy in appearance. The air bubbles help the eggs become evenly mixed throughout and not stuck in clumps within the batter. The air bubbles also give the mixture a firmer texture.
How to Test
For best results, you will want to use room temperature eggs and superfine sugar. To do a ribbon test, you will need a hand whisk or the whisk attachment on your beaters or mixer. Whip the sugar and egg mixture by hand or on medium speed for two to three minutes. You will want to watch carefully for a color change in the mixture as a lighter color will indicate the mixture is starting to aerate. As you lift the beaters up slightly and bring them forward a bit, watch to see if the mixture falls down in a ribbon-like pattern. If the mixture is not whipped long enough, it will not be able to hold the ribbon formation. Whipping the mixture too long will make it too fluffy to make the ribbons, resulting in more of a foam consistency. If you have reached the ribbon stage, you should stop whipping the mixture and move on with your recipe.
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