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

sauce

asked by brandon over 3 years ago
13 answers 3336 views
23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added over 3 years ago

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.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added over 3 years ago

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.

0f493ab9 068f 4498 ba2c 95c992214d52  sit2
Sam1148

Sam is a trusted home cook.

added over 3 years ago

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.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added over 3 years ago

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

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added over 3 years ago

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

C4c10cd5 69e8 4d54 b39c c5870da2826b  james joyce 1
pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added over 3 years ago

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.

4798a9c2 4c90 45e5 a5be 81bcb1f69c5c  junechamp
ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 3 years ago

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

7b500f1f 3219 4d49 8161 e2fc340b2798  flower bee
added over 3 years ago

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.

516f887e 3787 460a bf21 d20ef4195109  bigpan
added over 3 years ago

You don't want metal to react with egg.

4798a9c2 4c90 45e5 a5be 81bcb1f69c5c  junechamp
ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 3 years ago

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.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added over 3 years ago

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!

F8c5465c 5952 47d4 9558 8116c099e439  dscn2212
boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 3 years ago

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.