Do any of these statements sound familiar? "Don't go outside with wet hair, you'll catch a cold!" "If you don't want arthritis, don't crack your knuckles!" Or, for all of the bakers out there, maybe you've heard, "Don't overmix your batter!" While some of these urban legends are 100% false, others actually have scientific support, and today I've decided to do some super serious science experimentation to gather my own evidence. Is overmixing batter something us bakers should actually be conscious of?

To test this myth, three different basic batters were seriously overmixed and compared to their normal controls. So, do you really need to worry about leaving that mixer on a tad too long? Let's find out.

The Science

gravy, dairy product, cappuccino, soup, espresso, milk, cream, coffee
Annie Slabotsky

The whole idea that overmixed batter could be problematic comes from the properties of gluten in flour. Gluten is a protein that provides structure and binds mixtures together, and when it gets jostled about during stirring, it becomes more activated.

Theoretically, this results in more binding within the mix and a more stringy or elastic texture of dough. So, how do you know when to stop stirring the batter? Ideally, you should keep an eye on the mixer, and as soon as the batter is uniform (aka it has little to no streaks of flour remaining), you're good to go. 

Overmixing Test #1: Cake Batter

pastry, goody, chocolate, cake, cookie, candy, sweet
Julia Lauer

Left = normally mixed, right = overmixed. Lemme just tell you, "chewy" is not my favorite texture for a cake. Not only is there an obvious visual difference between these two batters, but the textures were polar opposites.

Lefty up there was a fluffy, perfect little cupcake, while overmixed batter on the right transformed into a super stringy cake. Remember gluten's binding properties? Voila, a weirdly stringy cupcake picture is worth a thousand words.  So, is overmixing cake batter okay? No, no it's not. Please nurture your batter kindly and gently.

Overmixing Test #2: Cookie Dough

pastry, candy, sweet, chocolate, cookie
Julia Lauer

Though not as apparent as the photographed difference in cake batters, these overmixed cookies somehow managed to taste even worse than the cupcake. Though these cookies visually resemble each other, the devils on the left were about as dry as the Sahara — like I cracked that thing in half, and powder puffed off. I like my cookies chewy and gooey and, apparently, not overmixed. 

So, should you throw away the cookie dough that you've mixed too long? YES. I hate to say it, but unless you're looking for an extremely dry cracker cookie, you should probably start from scratch. 

Overmixing Test #3: Biscuit Dough

bread, chocolate, candy, biscuits, cake, pastry, cookie, sweet
Julia Lauer

Can you spot the difference between the overmixed biscuits on the left and the normal biscuits on the right? Fooled you — because there (kinda) isn't one. These overmixed biscuits actually tasted and felt completely normal.

Both batters fulfilled my expectations of the classic biscuit, but honestly, I'd prefer Pillsbury to either of these doughs, anyway. Is biscuit batter seemingly sensitive to too much mixing? Nope. Mix away, you little biscuit baker, you.

Okay, so maybe I was just being an angsty teen and wanted to break some baking rules, but on the real, you should probably listen to what all of those chefs have been feeding your brain for years (pun intended). Mix your batter enough, but more importantly, know when to stop.