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Mixing Dough or Batter: Wet into Dry or Dry into Wet?

By Cook's Illustrated Published September 2012

Most recipes for bread dough or batter call for combining the dry ingredients separately from the liquid ingredients and then stirring the wet stuff into the dry, rather than the other way around. But does the order really matter? We mixed different types of dough and batter both ways to find out.

With thick pancake batter, we got perfectly acceptable results either way. But for baked goods made from drier doughs, like yeast breads, biscuits, scones, quick breads, and muffins, the order was crucial. When we added the wet ingredients to the dry ones, we got pockets of flour and a messy, crusted mixing bowl. Mixing the dry ingredients into the wet was far more successful. Following this order made for a more supple dough that was easier to combine thoroughly without overmixing (which can overdevelop gluten), so it turned out more delicate, finely textured results. It also made cleanup easier.