While sounding more than a little dirty, creaming is a simple but very important technique in baking. Just because creaming is easy, it’s also easy to get wrong.
“Crunch, crunch!” (And not in a good way.)
I was slightly taken aback. While the cookie tasted great, my teeth kept meeting huge grains of sugar! It wasn’t pleasant at all. Thank goodness my friend wasn’t watching me eat because I’m not a good actor at all.
What went wrong? Well, I suspected a couple of things. Firstly, she’d probably used granulated sugar instead of finer castor sugar. Secondly, and more importantly, she hadn’t done the creaming step properly.
Creaming is very simply mixing butter and sugar together. It’s usually the first step in a lot of baking recipes, especially for cookies and cakes. Doing it properly will improve the texture of your final confection.
To begin, make sure your butter is soft enough to be mixed. (Lots of recipes call this “room temperature,” but then whose room are we talking about? Anyway, that’s for another post!) Also, check if the sugar you’ve bought is labelled “castor.” Castor sugar is more finely milled than other types of sugars.
The object of creaming is two-fold: Firstly, you’re attempting to beat some air into the butter. That’s why if it’s done properly, the butter-sugar mixture will dramatically lighten in colour (unless you’re using brown sugar). Secondly, you’re trying to dissolve the sugar into the water component of the butter. That’s why the butter has to be soft and the sugar fine. To check if all the sugar has dissolved, just rub a little bit of the mixture between your fingers. If it feels gritty, mix some more. If it’s smooth, you’re good to go.
Normally, I just leave my stand mixer running on high for a good 5 minutes. You could do this by hand with a whisk, but I can tell you from experience that an electric mixer will save you a good bit of your sanity.
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