why do the french insist on using a wooden spoon when making creme anglaise and not a whisk?

sauce

  • Posted by: brandon
  • March 12, 2013
  • 4731 views
  • 13 Comments

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lindycindy
lindycindy March 12, 2013

A wooden spoon allows the cook to draw their finger through the sauce on the back of the spoon. If the line stays, the sauce is thickened and done.

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brandon
brandon March 12, 2013

no there is a different reason. you can check for nappe on a rubber spatula also, however in a french kitchen you are to use only a wooden spoon. I believe it has something to do with how the eggs cook.

Sam1148
Sam1148 March 12, 2013

Tradition.
Which is why Julia Child did her books about french cooking--and stayed with the important things instead of the trivial things.
Making it accessible to home cooks and breaking down the BS for home cooks.

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brandon
brandon March 12, 2013

no, there is a scientific reason. harold mcgee has talked about it in the past, but i cannot remember what his conclusion was.

brandon
brandon March 12, 2013

also, i love julia child, but she was wrong about a lot of stuff

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pierino
pierino March 13, 2013

The classic French sauce stirring technique is the "figure eight" which you can do with a wooden spoon but not with a whisk. Let's just say it works and leave it at that.

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ChefJune
ChefJune March 13, 2013

Really? I do the "figure eight" with a whisk just fine.

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darksideofthespoon
darksideofthespoon March 13, 2013

A whisk will incorporate air. making little air bubbles and a wooden spoon doesn't do that. That is what my first pastry chef always told me, especially when making creme brulee.

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Droplet
Droplet March 13, 2013

Isnt't it something about the sound the sauce makes? I personally find that if you listen to it, it "tells" you when the custard is reaching the thickening point and helps you take it off the heat at the right time. Technically a whisk doesn't give a good feel for the resistance of the moving fluid as it changes,which is basically another indicator for the above. And the spatula will create additinal slosh because of the flexibility of the silicone. I'd love to know what Mr McGee said, if somebody recalls.

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bigpan
bigpan March 13, 2013

You don't want metal to react with egg.

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ChefJune
ChefJune March 13, 2013

The whisk generates air and incorporates it into the sauce, whereas the wooden spoon does not. Use a wooden spoon for creme anglais, a whisk for sabayon.

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spiffypaws
spiffypaws March 13, 2013

Personally, I think a silicone spoonula is even better because it scrapes the bottom of the pan more evenly, and you can check for nappe on the back. I worked for a french chef who insisted on wood; I think it was a habit thing. I converted him to the spoonula, but it took months!

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boulangere
boulangere March 13, 2013

I use either a flat-bottomed wooden spatula or one of silicone or rubber. As spiffypaws points out, any of them makes continuous contact with the bottom of the pot, whatever stirring motion you choose to use. I cook crème anglaise in a bain marie to 165 degrees.

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