Creaming fat (butter, margarine or vegetable shortening) is an important step in the process of baking. It gives your sugar a lift and spreads out all the little granules and adds some air to your mixture. In the end, this hard work is rewarded with tender cookies and cakes that bake evenly without pooling or burning.
Some people describe it as a “fine art”, which, I think, is over-stating things just a bit.
Creaming simply means mixing fat and sugar together until well blended, leaving you with a fluffy light yellow mix.
There are 2 ways of creaming
1. Creaming by hand
- Butter needs to be at room temperature. Not straight out of the fridge, and not at all melting. The butter should be firm**. Thirty minutes before you’re ready to prepare your recipe, remove the butter from the fridge, cut into cubes, and let it rest on the counter. (Note: Your finger should easily leave an imprint when pressed into it.)
- Put the cubes of butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until it is soft. Creaming butter on its own first will make mixing of sugar much easier later on.
- Gradually add the sugar, little by little and keep beating. This will help mix sugar into the butter nicely and evenly. Beat till the mixture becomes fluffy and light yellowish color.
2. Creaming by mixer
- Pace the sugar and fat in the bowl of your stand mixer.
- With the mixer on a good medium speed (I use “4″), beat the sugar and butter together for several minutes, stopping the mixer and scraping down the beater and bowl as needed.
- Stop mixing when the mixture appears light, fluffy and creamy.
Note: When you cream butter and sugar in either way, what happens during this time is the sugar granules are cutting tiny holes into the fat (butter), which incorporates air, and causes the fat to soften and increase in volume. You’ll notice the batter change drastically in color and texture.
At this stage you should no longer be able to see sugar granules, but you can still feel them if you rub a little of the batter between your fingers.
When creaming sugar by hand it’s a slightly more difficult process (just consider it your arm workout for the day), but you still need to achieve the same results. When using a mixer, one can usually tell their butter is ready to go when it turns lighter in color and is suddenly fluffy. When doing it by hand, you’re doing well if you can just get the two mixed together.