Creaming method in baking

What is the Creaming Method in Baking?

What is the creaming method and why do you use it in baking? Technique is as important as ingredients in baking. Find out why and how to use the creaming method in your baking.

The creaming method is a technique used in baking to incorporate air into a batter to provide a natural rise. In the creaming method, a fat (normally butter) is beaten together with granulated or caster sugar. The process creates pockets of air that are trapped in the butter around each sugar granule.

What is the purpose of the creaming method?

Properly creaming the butter and sugar at the beginning of mixing a batter will help to keep the final bake light and airy. The air pockets that are created in the butter will expand from the heat of the oven.

Even if your recipe uses baking powder or baking soda for rise, the additional rise from the creaming is noticeable.

If you skip the creaming step or cut it short, your final bake may be heavy and dense, even with the addition of leavening agents.

It is also important to use room temperature butter as cold butter won’t whip up as much and cold air.

**TIP: If your butter is cold but you want to get started on your batter, put the butter in a stand mixer by itself and mix it with the paddle attachment on low speed until it has warmed up.**

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, even in baking. If you are making cookies, creaming is an important first step but less creaming will cause the cookies to spread less due to less air being present in the batter.

What recipes use this method?

Creaming is used as a technique is cakes, cookies, and sometimes quick breads.

Examples of cakes that use the creaming method are pound cakes, butter cakes and coffee cakes.

Examples of cookies that use the creaming method are chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter cookies.

The Creaming Method is also sometimes called the Traditional Method. Another technique called the Reverse Creaming Method has become increasingly popular lately.

In the Reverse Creaming Method, the butter is ‘rubbed’ into the flour and other dry ingredients. The science behind this method is that the fat coats the flour, stopping or slowing the development of gluten when wet ingredients are mixed in. The result in cakes is usually a velvety texture with less air.

Why and how to use the Creaming Method

The reason for using the creaming method is to incorporate air into a batter at its beginning stages and to create a stable emulsion for a uniform and smooth batter.

Each step of the mixing process is important. Creaming the butter and sugar properly create an emulsion that is the base for your batter.

Once the sugar and butter are light, fluffy, almost doubled in size and paler in color, your batter is ready for the next step.

Adding eggs is the next step in this process.

Baking, Gaelle Marcell, Unsplash

Make sure that your eggs (and the rest of your ingredients) are at room temperature.

If the eggs are cold when they are added to the batter, you will break the emulsion and your batter will not be smooth and rise as high.

Have no fear, it will still taste great! But you will lose some height and lightness in the final product.

Adding room temperature eggs slowly is also important. Instead of dumping in all the eggs at once, it is best to add them one at a time.

Or, better yet, gently whisk up your eggs and add a tablespoon at a time. The slow addition will keep the emulsion stable as the eggs are incorporated.

**TIP: If your eggs are still cold and you want to start soon, heat a bowl of water in the microwave for 25-30 seconds. Remove the bowl from the microwave and place the eggs in the warm water for about 5 minutes.**

Now add the flavors such as vanilla extract

At this point, adding extracts for flavor will mix in well and will not cause your batter to ‘break’ or curdle.

Just add them in and mix briefly.

Alternating the dry and liquid ingredients in cake batter

If you are using the creaming method to make cookies, alternating the dry and liquid ingredients is not necessary because there is generally a very small amount of liquid.

But when making a cake batter, alternating the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, spices all mixed together) and the liquid ingredients (milk, sour cream, yogurt, lemon juice, etc.) is important to maintaining the emulsion that you have created.

To ensure a light and airy cake, sift the dry ingredients together before adding to the batter!

Sifting dry ingredients, Erin Waynick, Unsplash

Start by adding about 1/3 of the sifted flour mixture to your batter. Mix until the dry ingredients are incorporated.

Then add 1/2 of the liquid ingredients and mix just until combined.

Follow with another 1/3 of the dry ingredients, the remaining liquids and finish with the last of the dry ingredients.

If you add all of the wet ingredients at once, the batter will separate. If you add all of the dry ingredients at once, the batter will be thick and cause you to over mix, which will develop the gluten and make the cake tough.

Now, let’s make something with the creaming method!

One Comment

  1. Great post, Tanya! the creaming method was responsible for my cake-o-phobeness that lasted years and years. Too bad you were not around to revert that situation sooner.

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