Have you ever eaten a freshly baked biscuit? Those kinds of biscuits that are buttery, flaky and pull apart layer by layer… We may be drooling over here just thinking about it.
I’m here today to give you our four best (and essential) tips for the most perfect biscuits that you and your loved ones are sure to thoroughly enjoy this holiday season!
Tip one: cold, cold, cold!
To ensure your biscuits are baked with the perfect flaky layers of butter– we need to make sure that your butter and milk are ice cold throughout the entire process. A huge bonus tip is to throw your mixing bowl with all your ingredients into the fridge or freezer for 10-15 minutes in between the baking steps to ensure that the fat (butter) doesn’t melt and seep out while baking.
Tip two: stack your dough multiple times
Once you’ve formed your dough into a rectangle, most recipes call for you to cut the dough in half and then stack them onto one another and then repeat that process at least twice. Our recommendation for the utmost of buttery layers– gather your dough, cut it into 4ths, stack them onto one another and repeat this process twice. This way you’re getting 8 layers or more rather than just 4. The results are perfect and in our opinion– so worth it.
Tip three: don’t twist your biscuit cutter!
This is a crucial step as it can “seal off” the layers and squish them into themselves. Twisting prevents the biscuits from being able to rise properly and inhibits the puff that creates height. It’s important to create a smooth cut with no twisting. To cut, press straight down on a metal biscuit cutter or– alternatively, if you don’t own a biscuit cutter, you can also use a sharp knife or bench scraper to cut them into squares.
Tip four: leave your dough thick
This tip is our favorite. Make sure that when it comes time to cut your biscuits, you’re cutting them at 3/4 of an inch tall. Any dough that is thicker than that will result in biscuits that topple over half way through baking– making them wonky and not so picturesque. Thinner dough may result in flat, crunchy biscuits. Throughout our years of biscuit making, 3/4 of an inch has been shown to yield the perfect height in a biscuit.
Now that you have all the knowledge for the perfect biscuits, we hope your baking experience is made easier this year and that it yields the best results possible. Let’s be honest though… flaky or not, biscuits are delicious any way!
If you’re just starting your baking journey, there are a few should-knows about certain ingredients. Baking is a science, after all! Whether you’re making cookies, brownies, cakes or muffins, there are differences in many ingredients that you’ll choose to bake with based on what they do in a recipe. Today, we’ll be learning about the key differences in cocoa powders. These are not the only cocoa powders but these are the most commonly used amongst home and professional bakers. Let’s dive into the world of cocoa!
What is cocoa powder?
Cocoa powder is produced from leftover roasted cocoa bean particles once cocoa butter has been extracted. It’s an unsweetened chocolate product that adds deep chocolate flavors to many baked goods, desserts and beverages.
What is natural cocoa powder?
Natural cocoa powder is just that. Natural cocoa powder from roasted cocoa beans. It has a lighter, medium brown color. It’s higher in acidity, with a PH level of 5.3-5.8. It yields a fruitier and more astringent taste.
What is Dutch processed cocoa powder?
Dutch processed cocoa powder, or alkalized cocoa powder, is simply cocoa solids that have been treated with an alkalizing agent to reduce the natural acidity. Dutch processed cocoa powder has a PH level of 7 making it a neutral product. Alkalizing cocoa means a darker color, more mellow & smooth in flavor and dissolves more easily into liquids. If you think about how an Oreo cookie tastes, the uniqueness of it, it’s a direct result of using the Dutch-processed cocoa powder.
When should you use each one in a recipe?
We’re glad you asked! When using cocoa powder in any sort of beverage like hot cocoa or in a pudding recipe for example, either one is interchangeable. Meaning, you can use either cocoa powder in any of those types of recipes depending on your flavor preference.
If you’re going to use cocoa powder in a brownie or cookie recipe, it gets a bit trickier as each ingredient works with a specific leavening agent. When looking at a recipe, it simply says “cocoa powder” and doesn’t specify which type, relying on what the other ingredients are will tell you which one to use.
When a recipe calls for baking soda, most of the time, recipes will want you to use a natural cocoa powder. The acidic cocoa powder will react with the alkaline baking soda to create lift in your recipe.
When a recipe calls for baking powder, most recipes will have you use Dutch-processed cocoa powder. This is simply because of how each of them reacts with the leavening agent.
Try this recipe with cocoa powder:
Now that you’ve learned everything there is to know about cocoa powders–consider yourself a professional and get to baking!
Did you know that the chocolate chip cookie is over 80 years old? A wonderful woman named Ruth Wakefield created the original recipe for our beloved treats in the 1930s! I think we can all agree that chocolate chip cookies are completely delicious no matter what… but are chunks better than chips? Let’s dive into why that might be true!
Scientifically, to bake the perfect cookie you need: flour, sugar, butter, egg, and chocolate of some sort. While the ratios of ingredients determine how chewy, thick, thin or crispy the cookie may be, the type of chocolate you use in them determines your entire cookie experience.
Let’s begin with the good ol’ chocolate chips! Chocolate chips are small teardrop shaped chocolate drops and don’t lose their shape once baked. Hence, why they are specifically made for baking. They’re meant to withstand even the highest of heats. So no matter what temperature you bake them at, they will always maintain their little drop shapes. Standard chocolate chips have a higher sugar content and lower cocoa butter content than chocolate bars. They taste much sweeter, making them great for snacking on their own.
Chocolate chunks on the other hand melt smoother and more evenly, creating deliciously decadent pools of gooey chocolate pockets. Chocolate chunks, like baking chocolate for example, are generally of higher quality, resulting in a much more decadent and lavish treat. If you’re using a dough that has a significant amount of sugar, choose a good quality semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate for perfectly rich cookies.
With all of your newfound knowledge about chocolate chip & chunk cookies… which type of cookie recipe will you be bringing into the kitchen this weekend? That’s what the weekends are for, of course!
Check out this video comparing chocolate chunks vs chips:
Baking soda is a commonly mystifying ingredient in the baking world. What exactly is it? Is it the same thing as baking powder? Is it okay that it’s been in my pantry for two years? If you have these questions, don’t worry. We once had them too.
What’s baking soda used for?
Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is used as a leavening agent in many cakes, breads, or cookies. It make doughs airier and less dense.
The leavening effect works by combining baking soda with acidic ingredients, like buttermilk or yogurt, to create a reaction.
While baking soda is a key ingredient to help batter rise, it’s not the only option to help your batter rise.
Does baking soda go bad?
Baking soda has a shelf-life of 18 months, but it’s not quite as cut and dry as reading the expiration date.
Technically, eating expired baking soda won’t hurt you, so you don’t have to worry about falling ill from a cake gone wrong.
However, if baking soda has gone bad, it won’t work very well. Using baking soda that’s past its prime could result in baked goods being denser and flatter than expected.
You usually won’t be able to tell if the soda has gone bad just from looking at it, but a quick experiment can let you know.
How to test if baking soda has gone bad
The process is simple. Baking soda works to expand dough by reacting to acid, so to see if it works, combine a small amount of the soda with an acidic ingredient. Here’s what we’d do:
Take about 1 tablespoon of baking soda and place it into a bowl.
Add a splash, about 2 teaspoons, of an acidic liquid. We recommend lemon juice or vinegar.
Watch the reaction: if the baking soda and liquid begin to fizz then your baking soda is fine to use. If there is no reaction, then it’s time to throw it out and consider alternatives.
What to do if your baking soda goes bad
If you’re too busy to go to the store but find your baking soda is no longer active, don’t worry too much. According to Healthline writer Ansley Hill, there are some great alternatives:
Baking powder. Baking powder is a mixture of baking soda and cream of tartar. It’s not quite as strong as baking soda but it’s a simple substitute. For every teaspoon of baking soda you need, use 3 teaspoons of baking powder.
Whipped egg whites. If your recipe already calls for eggs, then simply divide the whites and whip them. They’ll provide an airy texture to mimic the baking soda. If the recipe doesn’t call for eggs, then lessen other liquids. For instance, if you use two tablespoons of egg whites, then leave out the two tablespoons of milk.
If neither of these options work for you, then consider just leaving it out. Your baked good may be slightly denser, but it will still have the same delicious flavor.
Check out this video on baking powder vs baking soda:
If you enjoy baking, you’ve probably used baking soda and baking powder a time or two. They are often essential ingredients that can help bread or sweets rise, making baked goods taste deliciously fluffy.
Even if you use baking soda and powder regularly, you may be curious about what they are made of. Keep reading to learn the difference between the two and when to use what!
What is baking soda?
Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is an alkaline salt that creates carbon dioxide when mixed with acid. In turn, carbon dioxide allows what you are making to rise or expand.
Baking soda must be added to a dough containing acidic ingredients, such as cocoa or buttermilk. As a salt, recipes that call for baking soda will generally call for less salt as well. Baking soda also helps foods brown, so it’s a great ingredient to get that perfect golden look on your baked goods.
Baking soda has a shelf life of about 18 months. If you want to test if it’s still good, simply throw a spoonful in with vinegar, lemon juice, or something else acidic. If the baking soda fizzes, it’s still good!
What is baking powder?
Baking powder has sodium bicarbonate in it too, but it also includes two other ingredients, cream of tartar and cornstarch. Baking powder is a good option for baking when the mixture doesn’t have any acidic ingredients in it.
Some baking powders are double acting, which means that the powder will expand the dough once added to the mixture, and then again, in the oven.
Baking powder lasts up to a year. To see if your baking powder is still good, add a spoonful in with some boiling water. If it foams or bubbles up, it’s still good and ready to use!
Choosing between baking soda and baking powder
Baking soda and baking powder often go hand in hand. Sometimes, recipes will call for a bit of both.
If you’re deciding between the two, consider if your recipe has acidic ingredients in it. If it does, then consider using baking soda or a bit of both. If it doesn’t have any acidic ingredients in it, then it’s best to stick with baking powder.
Baking is often a science, but learning a bit more about what each ingredient can do goes a long way!
Sometimes, we don’t have quite what we need, but usually, we can still make it work!
If you need baking soda, you can use baking powder. Baking soda is about 3 times stronger than baking powder, so you’ll want to use about 3 times as much baking powder in your recipe.
If you need baking powder, substitute with 1/3 the amount of baking soda and 5/8 tsp cream of tartar.
Need self-rising flour? Self-rising flour is flour that already includes baking powder and salt. To make your own, simply add 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt for every cup of flour.
Try it out in your kitchen
Ready to see how baking powder and baking soda will affect your dishes? Try out some of our sweet treats listed below. Happy baking!
Our go-to creaming method that will change the way you bake forever!
Most of us have heard about creaming butter and sugar, right? If you haven’t, this refers to beating together room-temperature butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy. This process creates tiny air pockets in the batter that makes cakes rise as the whipped air bubbles expand during baking. But what if we told you there’s an easier, more efficient way to achieve the same beautiful cake? Keep reading to find out our preferred method of creaming butter and sugar!
Reverse creaming is a simple method that involves beating softened butter into dry ingredients instead of just sugar. The traditional creaming method and reverse creaming method produce quite similar results. Both produce a texture that’s light and moderately fine, but there are some subtle differences.
The traditional creaming method creates cakes that are a little more fluffy and have a slightly more open crumb. It also produces cakes that have a domed top due to the extra air beaten into the batter. Reverse creaming, on the other hand, produces flatter cakes with a velvety texture and even crumb — perfect for layered cakes!
Cakes made with the reverse creaming method have a more delicate texture because the butter coats the flour, which prevents any gluten from forming early on. We prefer this method for all these reasons, not to mention it’s much easier and almost impossible to mess up. While there are certainly recipes that call for reverse creaming, most recipes do not. Don’t worry, though — you can substitute this method with any recipe that calls for traditional creaming!
How do you reverse cream?
Reverse creaming is quite easy, in fact. With just a few simple steps, you’ll get that perfectly smooth batter everyone knows and loves! Here’s a step-by-step guide to this incredibly easy method that will change your life forever.
Start by combining all the dry ingredients and sugar into a stand mixer or large mixing bowl.
Beat cubed room-temperature butter into dry ingredients until it resembles a course meal. We recommend using a stand mixer, but a hand mixer will do just fine. If you use a hand mixer, it may just take longer to reach this stage.
In a separate bowl, whisk together all the wet ingredients. Add half the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined.
Add remaining ingredients and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). The batter will be smooth, silky, and light yellow.
Bake based on the directions of the recipe!
That’s it! Seems simple enough, right? Go ahead and give it a try! Let us know if there are other baking techniques you’d love to learn more about.
Learn more about creaming butter and sugar in baking:
What you have to know about storing room temperature butter and how to safely do so.
If you’re here, you’re most likely wondering if it’s safe to leave butter on the counter or not. Leaving butter at room temperature has been quite the debate, and the internet seems inconsistent on this topic. But, if you’re like us, you love the idea of readily available softened butter for your morning toast. So, we went digging to find the answers, and here’s what we found.
What Do Food Scientists Have To Say?
Unlike its dairy counterparts, the SFS (State Food Safety) doesn’t consider butter to be categorized as a TCS (Time/temperature Control for Safety) food. This is because most butter goes through pasteurization, which heats liquids at high temperatures for short amounts of time and kills harmful bacteria. Butter also consists of at least 80% fat, and bacteria needs water to grow. Since butter is mostly fat, it creates a barrier that makes it almost impenetrable to bacteria. Another factor determining how long butter is safe to be left on the counter is the presence of salt. Salt acts as a preservative because it reduces the activity of water in food. We know that water is essential in the growth of bacteria, so without salt, we’re leaving our butter open for business for these organisms.
How Long Can I Store Butter at Room Temperature?
This topic is where things get tricky, and the internet says many different things. Some say butter can only be left out for two days, others say 1-2 weeks, and others say far beyond that. So, we searched high and low to find trusted sources explaining how long butter can be stored at room temperature. During our scavenging, we found the reports of an experiment that tested the presence of yeast, mold, and bacteria in butter left at room temperature. Over 21 days, butter was kept around 72℉ and inspected under a microscope. After three weeks, the lab reported that the butter had an increase in bacteria but was still within the safe zone to consume. We also found another extensive study that tested the taste of butter after being on the counter at room temperature for varying amounts of time. Salted butter’s flavor did not change significantly after seven days, but unsalted butter started to change after four. So, with that information, even if it’s safe to consume, it may not always taste the best, and we say trust your gut. If your butter looks suspicious, has a distinct smell, and tastes off, don’t think twice — throw it out! Otherwise, butter seems safe to consume even after a significant amount of time if stored properly.
So, How Do I Store Butter at Room Temperature Properly?
Okay, we know now that butter is good for at least 4-7 days and upwards of 3 weeks. So what can we do to ensure it stays that way? Food becomes spoiled when exposed to light, heat, and oxygen. You can combat these factors by storing your butter in a clean, airtight, opaque container like a butter boat, bell, or butter dish. Keep it away from food that could potentially contaminate it and away from direct sunlight or other heat sources. Butter should only be left on the counter if the room temperature stays below 75℉. We also recommend considering how much butter you use within a few-day window and only leaving enough out to prevent wasting. Otherwise, we recommend alternative ways to store butter.
How Can I Tell When My Butter Is No Longer Safe To Consume?
An easy way to tell if your butter has started to go bad is by looking at it. Butter going rancid will change color from off-white to yellow and brown. It will also have a change in texture. If you see mold, you should immediately throw it out. But if you can’t tell by looking at it, smell it. Rancid butter will start to smell like sweaty feet, rotten cheese, or even vomit. If all else seems fine, the final test is to taste a small portion. Butter that has gone bad will have a sour-bitter taste. If the butter passes all these tests, you can feel confident that it’s still safe to consume.
If you’re new to storing room-temperature butter, your safest bet is simply to follow our recommended practices. Use salted butter instead of unsalted, and make sure to store your butter properly. “Safety first” should always be your priority when handling food. Trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, err on the side of caution.
Tips and tricks on how to soften butter quickly so you can get to baking sooner
Many baked goods require butter to be at room temperature, most likely for creaming butter and sugar, so it can be frustrating when you don’t plan ahead like you were supposed to. The good news is that there are many tips and tricks to help you soften your butter quickly so you can get to baking sooner. We’ve gathered all our favorite methods to get softened butter in no time. So just pick your favorite and get baking!
Our favorite methods to soften butter:
Take your butter out of the fridge and leave it on the counter for 1-2 hours. This method is the most hands-off and consistent but also the most time-consuming. We recommend this method if you have time, but if you don’t, there are plenty of other innovative ways to skip this step.
All you have to do is cut the butter into small cubes using a knife or bench scraper. The smaller you can make your pieces, the faster they’ll soften. We like to cube our butter before doing anything else. It only takes 15 minutes to soften cubed butter, so it’s a perfect time to prep anything you may need. You could also grate your butter, but it risks the chance of melting instead of softening.
Place a stick of butter on a microwavable plate and microwave in 10-second intervals while rotating the butter each time. This method seems to be the most popular, but there’s a price to pay with such a speedy method. Microwaving your butter will soften in some spots, melt others, and have no change in other areas. It’s wildly inconsistent, but hey, if it works, it works.
4. Cup Steam
Fill a large microwaveable cup with water and microwave on high for 1 minute. Pour out the water and use the cup to cover the butter. Allow the butter to steam for 5 minutes. One caveat about this method is the outside may be the perfect temperature, but the core is still cold, and after 5 minutes, the cup is no longer hot enough to soften the rest of the stick.
If you have some unresolved anger, we recommend this method. Just place butter in the center of parchment paper or plastic and wrap it loosely. Grab a rolling pin and pound, pound, pound. The force will flatten the butter and allow it to soften faster. This method is great, especially when making croissants.
We love this method because it’s the most fun and hands-on. Using clean, dry hands, gently knead the butter on a clean, dry surface until it’s pliable. The warm temperature of your hands will gradually increase the temperature of the butter. The unfortunate news is that it’s also the messiest. The price to pay for an enjoyable experience.
7. Body Temperature
Just like kneading, this method uses your body’s heat to soften butter. Just place the wrapped, cold stick under your shirt and secure it under your waistband. Allow the butter to soften for a few minutes. Forewarning, though, your body will be shocked by the cold stick touching your warm skin.
So, there you have it! Our favorite tips and tricks to soften your butter in no time. If you have more questions about softened butter, like why butter temperature matters and how to know when your butter is at the right temperature, we recommend reading our extensive article on everything you need to know about creaming butter and sugar.
A how-to guide to upgrading your baked goods with this simple yet critical technique.
You don’t have to be a professional baker to understand that creaming butter and sugar can make or break your recipes. Without creaming, your cakes will never rise to their full potential. Beating together softened butter and sugar is why your cakes puff up beautifully. It also determines whether a cookie is flat and chewy or more cake-like. So if you’re looking to upgrade your baked goods, It’s time to master this critical technique.
Creaming butter and sugar is usually the first step in cake recipes. “Creaming” refers to beating softened butter and sugar until the sugar dissolves, creating tiny air pockets in the batter. Once baked, these pockets of trapped air expand and puff up cakes, create texture, and provide structure. While using a stand or hand mixer is easiest, you can certainly do this with common kitchen tools if you’ve got arms of steel.
How do I know my butter is at the right temperature?
Recipes will either say softened or room temperature when referring to creaming. Those two words are used interchangeably for this method. While room temperature usually refers to the average 73℉ home, the ideal butter temperature for creaming is between 60-65℉. You’ll know it’s the right temperature when it feels slightly chilled and your finger leaves an indentation when pressed but doesn’t push through the butter quickly. If you forgot to take your butter out of the fridge beforehand, don’t fret. We’ve got some tricks up our sleeve that can help you soften butter quickly!
How to Cream Butter and Sugar:
Stand mixer with a paddle attachment or hand mixer
Large mixing bowl
Add butter to a large mixing bowl. Beat on low until the butter begins to soften and spread. You can also cut your butter into cubes before beating to help with this process.
Pour in the sugar and slowly increase speed to medium (level 6 on a KitchenAid stand mixer).
Beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light in color, fluffy, and almost doubled in size. The sugar should also feel mostly dissolved. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally to ensure everything beats evenly. Adequately creamed butter can take up to 5-7 minutes, depending on the speed of your mixer.
While eggs are highly nutritious and contain many essential vitamins and minerals, some people cannot eat them.
What does this mean for baking? As we all know, eggs are essential for baking as they provide structure, leavening and add color to our baked goods! Well, for people who can’t consume them, there are many substitutions for eggs in baking, luckily. Substitutions that also contain good amounts of vitamins and micronutrients such as chia seed and flaxseed. Let’s dive into which substitutions are best for baking!
Number one: Flax seeds
Flax seed is a plant-based food that is all natural, vegan, GF, and can be added to many different meals and foods for extra nutrients. For example, oatmeal, yogurt, pancakes, breads, etc. Some people use it as a dietary supplement to increase their nutrient, fiber, and healthy fat intake. All you need to replace 1 egg in a baking recipe is 1 tbsp ground whole flax seed and 4 tbsps of water. Mix those two ingredients together and allow it to sit for roughly 10 minutes. It turns slightly thick and gooey like a real egg!
Number 2: Banana
Bananas are not only delicious but they are also rich in nutrients! Combine that with the wonderful banana-ey flavor and they serve an elevated purpose of egg replacement in baking–who knew?!
Once again, the texture slightly replicates an egg, with 1 mashed banana replacing 1 whole egg in baking recipes.
Number 3: Chia seeds
Chia seeds are a fantastic way of hitting your fiber goals for the day! They’re a great addition to yogurts and salads. Quite similar to flaxseed; chia seeds are really easy to add to many dishes and they’re also nutrient-rich as well! Essentially the same as flaxseed, you can create 1 egg by mixing 1 tbsp of chia seeds with 4 tbsps of water and waiting for several minutes before adding to your recipe.
Number 4: Aquafaba
What is aquafaba you say?! It’s actually the leftover liquid/brine from soaking chickpeas in water. Sounds kind of weird– but trust us, it’s amazing for baking! You can whip it up into meringues, pavlovas, make ice cream, use it to replace eggs in different baked goods, muffins & pancakes, etc. Replace 1 egg by using 3 tbsp of the liquid. Lightly whisk to aerate the chickpea brine before using. Just make sure you’re using unsalted, unflavored chickpeas!
Answers to the most common questions about creaming butter and sugar
Your cakes ended up dense and flat, but you have no idea why. You looked back on the recipe and did everything correctly, or so you thought. If the recipe said to cream butter and sugar, it’s most likely that the butter wasn’t creamed correctly. So, how do you cream butter and sugar the right way?
When a recipe says to cream butter and sugar, it’s telling you to quickly combine butter and sugar until light and fluffy. You do this by mixing softened butter and sugar with a stand or hand mixer at a moderately high speed. As the two ingredients whip together, the sugar starts to dissolve, creating tiny air pockets within the butter. These tiny bubbles of trapped air puff up cakes and other baked goods, creating lighter, fluffier, and moister desserts.
Creaming butter and sugar is an essential technique to master, especially when the recipe doesn’t contain any other form of leavener like baking soda or baking powder. It sounds like a simple task, but many factors can determine how well you’ve aerated your butter. So let’s get into the details.
Does the temperature of my butter matter?
The temperature of your butter is critical when creaming butter and sugar. Too cold, and your sugar won’t properly dissolve into your butter. Too hot, and your cakes will end up flat and greasy. The magical temperature of softened butter is actually around 65℉, slightly cooler than the ambient temperature of your home. When a recipe says to have butter at room temperature, they mean between 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything more or less than that, you start teetering on the side of possible disaster. You know your butter is at the right temperature when it’s slightly cool to the touch, and you can press an indentation with your finger without quickly going through it.
I forgot to take my butter out of my fridge!
You start making a recipe and realize your butter is too cold. What are you supposed to do? No worries, we’ve got some great tips on how to soften your butter quickly.
You could leave your butter on the countertop for one hour if you have the time.
You can place your butter between two sheets of wax or parchment paper. Then, press down on the butter with a rolling pin and roll it out once it softens.
You could grate your cold butter, making it easier to get to room temperature. Be careful, though; it can melt this way quickly.
You can pour boiling water into a cup and wait a few minutes. Then, dump the water and place the warm cup over your butter until it’s at the proper temperature.
Do I use salted or unsalted butter?
Salted vs. unsalted butter doesn’t change the effect of the creaming method. However, it does affect your baked goods’ final level of saltiness. Professional bakers always recommend using unsalted butter, so you have more control. If a recipe doesn’t specify, it’s most likely unsalted. You can reduce the amount of added salt in a recipe if all you have is salted butter.
Can I use any other fat other than butter?
The short answer is yes! You can undoubtedly use shortening, lard, or other fats. But, keep in mind that temperature is still critical. Other fats are also better or worse at trapping air which can result in different levels of texture in your final baked goods. Our suggestion is to experiment and have fun with it. Find which fat you prefer!
Does the type of sugar affect the final bake?
Yes, the type of sugar you decide to use will affect the final bake. The size of the crystals determines the amount and size of the air pockets it creates. Superfine sugar is perfect for cakes that call for a delicate texture. Granulated sugar seems to be the standard in most recipes, so that’s what we suggest. But castor and brown sugar also work well for this method. The only thing we don’t recommend using is powdered sugar.
Do I need to use a stand mixer?
You could certainly cream butter and sugar without a stand mixer. It will take a good amount of elbow grease, though. If you don’t have a stand mixer, a hand mixer will work just as well. If you don’t have either of those, that’s okay! Here’s how to cream butter and sugar using common kitchen tools:
Add your softened butter and sugar to a bowl.
Gently mash the butter with a fork until mostly combined.
Using a wooden spoon, mix until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of a bowl with a spatula as needed.
Do I cream butter and sugar for the same amount of time for cookies?
Ultimately, that’s up to you. The amount of creaming you do will determine the final texture. Creaming butter for longer will result in more cake-like cookies, whereas creaming butter for a shorter period will create a flatter, chewier cookie. Of course, both cookies are lovely in their own means, so it really depends on what you’re going for. That said, when baking a cake, we recommend creaming for a full seven minutes.
How do I know I’ve creamed my butter and sugar long enough?
Butter goes through phases when in the process of being creamed. It will go from dark yellow and grainy to very light yellow, fluffy, and the sugar will feel mostly dissolved. It’s better to know what stage you’re in vs. the amount of time you’ve spent creaming. This is because your mixer’s speed and the butter’s temperature will whip at different rates. Here’s how to tell what stage you’re in and the average time it takes to reach each one:
Phase 1 (1-2 minutes) Dark Yellow Grainy Dry Sand
Phase 2 (3-4 minutes) Slightly lighter in color Grainy Wet Sand
Phase 4 (7-8 minutes) Very light yellow Extra fluffy Sugar will feel mostly dissolved
Can you over cream your butter?
You sure can! You know you’ve gone too far when your butter surpasses the fourth phase and splits back into a grainy texture. If you’ve reached that far, you can add ground cinnamon and use that as a spread for toast or pancakes. Then, start over using new butter and sugar before continuing with your recipe.
Long story short, creaming butter is an essential technique every scratch baker should know. Convert your dense, flat cakes to moist, well-risen, professional-grade delicacies! All it takes is the right temperature, a little bit of patience, and some knowledge. Let us know how creaming butter and sugar has helped your baking!