This is something that no one ever tells you.
In many recipes, you’ll find that you should mix the batter until “just combined”, meaning that you should stop when the ingredient you just added disappears into the batter.
This is because the proteins that form gluten are activated by mixing with water. When mixing flour and water with little fat or sugar, you create long strands of gluten – a tough, dense and chewy texture. This may be great in cookies…but not for cakes and definitely not for flaky crusts.
Structural components can include egg protein, dairy protein, gluten and starches. Weakening components include fats, sugars, liquids and acids. If you have recipe with too many structural makers, you may have a tall beautiful looking cake that is tough and chewy. On the other hand, a recipe with too many weakeners may taste delicious but will fall apart easily. Not good for celebration cakes!
This is why bakers make tweaks to find their perfect balance of best texture and taste. Understanding the science behind it helps you to make the recipe truly your own without constantly scouring for the “best ____ recipe”
So if you love to smack mix the batter like there’s no tomorrow, or go into another land while watching the batter in your standup mixer. Time to stop!