Creaming butter and sugar is an art! Really, well yes I think so. This easy first step (once mastered) can make or break your cake! This technique is used for about 90 % of most cake and batter style desserts. The trouble is winter.
The butter is cold and that beautiful stainless steel bowl on the standmixer simply makes it colder. This is such a benefit in the middle of summer but oh not in the chilly months. I have used stainless steel bowls for years. All commercial based cooks / chefs & bakers love it – simply because the kitchen is hot and the stainless keeps it all cool.
However, for the new players to the world of stainless steel is it tricky – essentially. So for the many who have written and asked how to easily cream butter and sugar …. here are the golden tips.
Use the flat beater only. This is the wooden spoon to the mixer. The wire whisk is used only for whipping cream & egg whites.
Make sure the butter is always at room soft temperature (not chilled) – this means you can lightly squash it between your fingers if you touch it. Now you can either gently warm it in the microwave – using short bursts on defrost (30 % power) or pop it into a bowl over hot water and allow to warm a little but don’t melt it. Melted butter will not beat up. This means your cake will not have a wonderful light texture.
In cold weather the stainless steel bowl can be quite cold (touch the outside of the bowl with your hands and you will feel this). Just before you begin the actually mixing, fill the bowl with hot water, or rinse in a sink of hot water then quickly and thoroughly dry. Stainless steel quickly returns to a cool temperature so work quickly.
Place the soft room temperature butter into the warmed bowl and beat (with the flat beater) begin on speed 1 then move up to speed 6and beat for about 20 seconds before you start to add the sugar. Whipping up the butter just a little first lightens it and allows the butter to easily incorporate with the sugar. Add the sugar in two additions, a little then the remainder. (Many pastry chefs believe adding the sugar in one go, causes the butter to choke and therefore you stop the mixture aerating)
Caster sugar (not A1 standard sugar). A1 sugar is very course in texture and is very difficult to ‘cream’ or dissolve in the butter (or in egg whites or cream). Treasured family / old recipes may have sugar listed as an ingredient – In years gone past only one sugar was available. In the past 20 years ‘caster’ sugar was created and A1 sugar has become much ‘courser’ in texture’ than it used to be, making it now not suitable to use.
The mixing is initially begun on speed 1, and then quickly moved through the speeds to 4, and 6 during the mixing it is best to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. The mixing time is generally around 3-5 minutes. This depends on the recipe. In some traditional recipes creaming could be up to 10! The mixture should be very pale and fluffy and the sugar well dissolved into the butter.
Quantity being mixed. Most home stlyle recipes begin with 125g butter and 1/2 – 3/4 cups caster sugar. However, the mixer easily beats more than triple these quantities. Very small quantities can be creamed very successfully (75 g butter to 1/4 cup caster sugar) as well.
Add the eggs one at a time and beat well between each. Remember to wipe the sides of the bowl down as needed. Reduce the speed to 1 if mixing in the flour, milk etc and beat lightly and quickly once the flour has been added. Do not over mix or the air will be beaten out. Many remove the bowl and hand mix to fold in the flour. NO you can mix in the flour using the mixer but this must be mixed quickly – 2- 3 turns of the beater only.
Beater to bowl clearance: You may need to slightly correct the clearance of the beater to the bowl (see details in the instruction manual “Beater to Bowl Clearance” – use the flat beater when adjusting). This will only be needed if a little of the mixture right at the bottom of the bowl is not mixing.
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