How To Know When Your Cake Batter Has Reached The 'Ribbon Stage'

Cakes are the centerpiece to every celebration, and are versatile enough to be baked in many different flavors. From the all-time favorites of classic yellow and chocolate, to more seasonal options like carrot cake or eggnog cake, and even some unique flavors just-cause, like orange chiffon, butter pecan, and lemon poppyseed, there's a few staple ingredients that all cakes require. 

According to Rosalind Miller Cakes, the basic foundation of ingredients needed to achieve the correct flavor and consistency of a cake are flour, eggs, butter (or other types of fat such as oil), sugar, salt, milk, vanilla extract, and baking soda. But whipping up cake batter isn't as simple as throwing all the ingredients in a bowl and whisking it together. Adding ingredients in different stages helps allow the batter to emulsify together, and eggs and sugar are key to achieving the right consistency. 

The first stage in creating a cake batter is beating the eggs and sugar until it reaches a ribbon stage. But what does this mean?

Through color, consistency, and volume

According to King Arthur Baking, the ribbon stage is essentially when you notice a consistent thick trail from the egg and sugar mixture falling from the beater when lifted up. This is achieved when the eggs and sugar are beaten for roughly three to five minutes, causing air to incorporate into the mixture and creating a pale yellow color. This air in the batter is crucial in order for your cake to be light and fluffy, while also accomplishing a good rise in the oven. 

The ribbon stage is a key indicator that the base of your cake batter is ready to gently receive more ingredients.

While many cakes call for whole eggs, some call for egg whites, and some call for egg yolks. Seeing that the color is different between these two, according to Celebrities Buzz, the color should still reach a pale yellow — even when only using egg yolks. When using egg whites, they are considered to be in the ribbon stage when the whites remain stiff in peaks once the beater is lifted.