1. No Peaks – After a few minutes of whipping, the egg whites are getting foamy and opaque, but they’re still so liquidy that they won’t hold a shape at all.
2. Soft Peak – When you turn your whisk upside down, the peaks are just starting to hold. They’re soft and melt back into themselves after a second.
3. Firm Peak – Now when you turn your whisk upside down, the peaks will hold and the ridges are more distinct, but the tips fold back on themselves.
4. Stiff Peak – Turn the whisk upside down, and those peaks hold proudly! They should point straight up without collapsing at all (or maybe a little bit just at the very tips). The mixture is thick and heavy.
5. Over-beating – It’s possible to take it too far. After the stiff peak stage, egg whites will start to look grainy and dull. They will eventually collapse back on themselves. Whipped cream will also get grainy and will start to separate into fat and liquid.