Creaming - An important step in baking

Creaming - An important step in baking

The act of combining butter and sugar is one of the most important steps in baking. Poorly creamed butter can result in cakes and cookies that are disappointingly dense and coarse, especially in batters that are too thick to be leavened solely by eggs or chemical leaveners such as baking soda. Thick batters get their rising power from the air that's incorporated into butter as the butter is combined with sugar.

  • To cream butter and sugar - begin with room-temperature ingredients. Butter that's too cold won't blend with sugar. if it's too warm, it won't hold air. The ideal creaming temperature for butter is between 65o and 70oF. Also, use a flat wooden spoon. Though electric mixers and whisks can be used, the texture of wood holds butter best and keeps it from sliding around the bowl. Begin creaming by flattening the softened butter against the sides of the bowl. Once it becomes creamy, lift the butter and fold it over on itself to incorporate air. Once the butter is light and fluffy, gradually add the sugar. After 3 to 5 minutes of vigorous beating, the butter should be pale and almost twice its original volume.

  • To get maximum aeration from creamed butter - avoid over-beating it. If the mixture becomes grainy and looks curdled, it has been over-beaten. Go ahead and use it, but the mixture won't have the same leavening power that properly creamed butter would.

  • To keep creamed butter from deflating - if eggs are called for in the recipe, lightly beat them before adding to the mixture. Also fold in the dry ingredients carefully.

  • To cream butter with an electric mixer - use medium speed. Too much friction can melt the butter and result in a baked item that's too dense.

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