For most baking recipes, it is recommended to use egg whites at room temperature, as they tend to beat to a greater volume compared to when they are cold. This is because cold egg whites contain more air pockets, which can deflate during the beating process. However, there are some meringue recipes that call for cold egg whites, so it depends on the specific recipe you are using.
To whisk egg whites to soft peaks:
Start by using a clean and dry metal or glass bowl.
Use a whisk or electric mixer on medium-high speed until the egg whites start to foam.
Gradually add sugar (if desired) and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Soft peaks should curl slightly when the whisk or beaters are lifted.
Be careful not to over-beat, as the egg whites can become clumpy and dry.
To whisk egg whites to stiff peaks:
Use a clean, grease-free bowl and whisk. Fat can prevent the egg whites from whipping properly.
Start with room-temperature egg whites. They will whip faster and reach a higher volume.
Start slowly, then increase speed gradually. Once the egg whites start to foam, you can increase the speed.
Whisk until stiff peaks form. To test if the peaks are stiff enough, turn the whisk upside down. If the peaks hold their shape, they are ready.
Avoid over-whipping, as the egg whites can become dry and clumpy.