Monday, January 24, 2011

The Creaming Method: How to do it!

In the previous blog post, I mentioned the "creaming method" when baking cookies, quick breads (like banana bread), and some cakes (butter-fat based cakes). What is the creaming method you may ask? Well, if you have made chocolate chip cookies before I am sure you have used the creaming method.In the professional pastry kitchen, we have certain types of methods when making a certain batter or dough. We have a method when making biscuits, sponge cakes, and icing. When I write a recipe for cookies, under the directions I will write: "CREAMING METHOD" and I understand it without writing it all out.

The creaming method works when you want a light and fluffy product, like nice chocolate chip cookies, vanilla cake, or cinnamon raisin bread. The creaming method incorporates tiny air bubbles which are desired when you want a light baked good.
THE STEPS OF THE CREAMING METHOD:
-Using a Kitchen Aid Standing mixer (you will need a mixer!), fitted with the paddle attachment (looks like a soft triangle), cream the soften butter and sugar together. The shape of the paddle attachment will bring in air to the soften butter-sugar mixture. YOU WANT LOTS OF AIR in the batter! Cream for 8-10 minutes, until light and fluffy. You should "scrape" the mixture 3 times during the duration of the creaming time. It should look uniform and not "oily."

-Mix the eggs, vanilla, and any other liquids together in a microwave safe bowl. Place in a microwave for 10 seconds. The liquid mixture should be at room temp (about 68 degrees F/hand temp). Why? You are creating an emulsion ("a mixture of two unblendable liquids!") with the sugar/butter and liquid mixture and emulsions will form together as one better if all ingredients are at room temp.
Place the mixer on medium speed, and slowly add the liquids. Scrape down one half-way. Add the rest of the liquids. What if the mixture "breaks" and lookes oily and seperated? Add some of your flour to it and slowly mix. The reason why a mixture "breaks" is because you added the liquids too fast or the liquids were too cold.

-SIFT (you read my blog about sifting!) all the dry ingredients together and add to the sugar-mixture, along with any other ingredients, such as chocolate chips or nuts. Slowly mix together on low speed until the batter is full blended. The batter should be very smooth, light, and no lumps. Scrape to make sure the batter is uniform, esp. at the bottom of the bowl.
Sometime, the recipe will call for the liquid and dry mixtures to be added to the sugar-butter mixture in an alternating matter. You do this because there is too much liquid for the butter-sugar to "hold" without breaking, thus you need some dry ingredients to absorb the liquid.

-Bake: generally, cookies should be baked in a medium oven (325-350 degrees F) for a short period of time. Cakes and quick breads need to be baked longer. The end result of the baked good will show off how well you did at the creaming method. A light, fluffy, and evenly baked good will result from properly doing the creaming method.

The creaming method requires 3 main steps: all ingredients at room temp, creaming the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, and add the liquids slowly to the creaming mixture. Learn to master the creaming method and you will have successful and tasty baked goods!
Happy Baking!

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