Your Butter Cake Recipes Will Fail Without The Creaming Method
Butter cake recipes will always be disappointing if you don’t use the correct mixing method. While most people blame the oven for cake faults, the problem is not in the baking. The most common cake faults stem from mistakes made during mixing.
Mixing methods are the most important step in creating a great cake, no matter what the recipe.
The Creaming Method is used for high-fat cakes. In butter cake recipes, there is usually a great proportion of butter in the formula. Butter is fat. Shortening is fat. Creaming together fat and sugar is the first step in this conventional method of cake mixing
The most common mistake people make with this method is not incorporating enough air during this first step. The goal of creaming together fat and sugar is not only to create a consistent mixture, but to trap air within the fat which will eventually give structure and texture to the cake.
Correctly creamed fat is light, fluffy and smooth. If your butter/sugar mixture is coarse, dense, sparkles from grains of sugar, or is crunchy when tasted, you’ve got more mixing to do.
The second step in the creaming method is the most important. It can mean the difference between a moist tender cake and one that is tough and dense. While chemical leaveners like baking soda and baking powder help the cake rise, it’s the addition of eggs that prevent it from falling back down.
Step two includes forming an emulsification. Two unmixable items that are brought together are said to be emulsified. Fat and water don’t mix. But, egg yolks are the liason or emulsifying agent that will hold them together during baking. So, creating a strong emulsification is key.
When you add the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar, it should be in multiple stages, in a slow stream. Never add the next egg until the previous one is fully mixed into the butter. The butter/sugar mixture will appear wet and uncombined when the eggs are not completely mixed in.
Since chocolate is fat, melted chocolate is added immediately after the eggs to be included in the emulsification process. You’re now looking at the beginning batter for a chocolate butter cake. You’ve created the foundation, now it’s time to give texture and structure to the cake.
The fourth step in the creaming method is to alternate the sifted dry ingredients and liquid ingredients until you have a smooth, spreadable batter. Sifting of dry ingredients is an important step because it too incorporates air, giving a lighter texture to the cake.
How do you tell when your chocolate butter cake is done? There are three ways:
1) Shrinkage – As the egg and flour proteins coagulate, they shrink and pull the cake from the sides of the pan. One clue to a completely baked cake is a slightly smaller cake than the pan
2) Springage – Press on the top of your cake slightly with a finger. If the cake immediately recoils, it’s done. If a fingerprint indentation is left, you’ll need more time in the oven.
3) Stabbage – Stab it with a toothpick. If it comes out dry, the cake is finished.
Repeating the necessary steps in the creaming method will give you the best results when making a chocolate butter cake, pound cake, or even cookies from scratch. Each step of this process builds on the previous. Butter and sugar are creamed to trap air. Eggs are added to create an emulsification.
These are the building blocks of a great cake that has nothing to do with what happens in the oven.