A number of cake and cookies recipe call for Creaming the butter and sugar together. This is called the Creaming Method which involves the butter and the cream to be beaten together, either by an electric mixer or by hand, till light and fluffy. Creaming is the first step in many baking recipes and also the most important step, so it is a good idea to understand what it means and to do it right way. If you have creamed your butter and your sugar well, then your baked product will have more volume and also if its a cake then it will be lighter and fluffier and will rise higher.
Any cake which follows the Creaming Method is always lighter, fluffier and softer, than a cake which follows any other method like The Combination method or the Separation Method.
Creaming Method incorporates air bubbles, when the sugar crystals rub with the butter while beating them together. These air bubbles help in making the cake light and soft in texture. Later during the process, when the baking powder or baking soda is added (which are technically also called Leaveners), they help in enlarging these air bubbles, thus giving volume to the cake. Baking powder/soda release carbon dioxide, which expand the tiny air bubbles already formed during the creaming process.
So now you know why baking is science, huh?? But its fun and really easy when you actually get to do it and here is how it is done...
- Take a deep mixing bowl and use the Paddle attachment in your electric blender/mixer. if doing it by hand use a whisk or a flat spatula.
- Make sure Butter is soft, not meted.
- If using crystalline sugar, grind the sugar to a coarse powder otherwise use castor sugar . Do not use very superfine sugar because then the sugar does not cut very deep into the butter and produces very less air bubbles...the whole purpose of creaming is lost.
- Start beating the butter at the lowest speed for about 30-40 seconds.
- Add the sugar little by little ( one tablespoon at a time) and continue beating. Do not increase the blender speed. Keep it at minimum, because a higher speed will break all the air bubbles that would have formed.
- Sugar is best added in small quantities, but if you don't have the time, which most of us are running short of, add all the sugar together, which is what I do all the time.
- Keep scrapping the sides of the bowl so that all the sugar combines with the butter.
- How do you know when to stop...simple... when the butter increases in volume, the colour of the mixture pales and the mixture is sticky to touch (and not sandy or granular). Stop and get on with the addition of eggs. Do not overbeat as this will break the air bubbles.
- Do not leave the creamed mixture unused. If you must then cover and refrigerate.
Use creaming method for all your baked products, unless the recipe calls for some other technique and you will realize it can make all that difference to your baked goodies...
Happy Baking !!