Have you ever seen a recipe that called for creaming the butter into the sugar and not known what to do? Well, the truth comes out:
What is creaming?
Creaming is the process of combining a solid fat and sugar, incorporating air bubbles into the fat. This technique can be used for butter, shortening, or lard. Shortening is supposed to be the easiest one the cream because it is already pre-creamed without sugar when it is made. Also, it has a higher melting point than butter, so it will stay solid even on hot days.
Why use creaming?
Creaming adds air to a dough, making it rise once cooked. It is also a way to add solid fat into a dough without needing to melt it or cut it in.
When do you use creaming?
Creaming is often used in cookie dough and in buttercream frosting.
How do you cream?
There are 3 different ways to cream. They all use the same movement, but the power behind it comes from different places.
The first technique is the easiest: put soft, room temperature butter in the bowl of a standing mixer with the sugar and mix for 2 minutes.
The second technique is the same concept, but using a hand-held electric mixer instead. It uses a bit more energy, especially if the butter is not completely soft. Put the butter cut into cubes in a mixing bowl with the sugar and mix on medium for 1-2 minutes. This technique is good if you don't have a stand mixer or do not want to dirty it.
The last technique is using a metal whisk to incorporate the sugar into the butter, a good way to build biceps!
Remember, the point of cream is to separate the lipid molecules and add air to the butter, so you want to make sure you cream for at least 1 minute with the electric appliances, and longer by hand.
If, when trying to soften your butter in the microwave, you accidentally melt, you can leave it in the freezer for 5 minutes and beat it with a whip until it is smooth.