Q.

What does the term “a sacrifice” mean in the kitchen?

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A.

Sacrificing or “a sacrifice” are pastry chef terms used to refer to a sponge-cake technique where a small portion of egg whites is mixed into the batter before the rest are carefully folded in. 

Any cake recipe that gets its primary leavening (if not all its leavening) from whipped egg whites is defined as a sponge cake.  Because the fat in egg yolks retards egg whites’ ability to fluff up into a stable foam, the egg yolks are beaten separately with most of the sweeteners and the flour, fats and flavorings.  Just prior to baking, the whipped egg whites are folded into the rest of the cake batter, so that there will be as much air trapped in the batter (via the foam) as possible.

However, because the yolk-based batter is rather dense relative to the fluffy egg whites, it can force a lot of air out of the foam during the folding process.  To help combat this, a small percentage of the egg white foam is mixed (rather than folded) into the batter first.  This lightens the batter’s consistency, but also wastes most of the air trapped in that portion..hence the term “sacrifice.” 

It is believed by many pastry chefs that the now lightened batter allows the rest of the foam to be more easily folded in, resulting in a fluffier cake.

Sacrificing is also sometimes used when folding whipped cream into dishes.




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