The Creaming Method

Wouldn’t it be neat to look at a list of ingredients and know exactly what to do with them, without having to read the rest of the recipe? By understanding the basic methods of baking, you can do just that!

We’re going to start with the most basic, the creaming method. You’ve likely used it countless times to make cookies, cakes, muffins, and more and knowing how (and why) it works will give you consistent successful results every time.

What you’ll need

The creaming method starts with sugar and fat (shortening, butter, or other) beaten until light and creamy. In order to achieve this, you need a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Unfortunately, no other kitchen appliance (hand-held mixer, food processor) will do it right. You can of course do it by hand, it will just take more time and elbow grease.

How to: The Creaming Method

An important note about butter: it needs to be at room temperature. Not straight out of the fridge, and not at all melting. The butter should be firm, but your finger easily leaves an imprint when pressed into it. Thirty minutes before you’re ready to prepare your recipe, remove the butter from the fridge, cut into cubes, and let rest on the counter.

How to: The Creaming Method

How the Creaming Method works

Place the sugar and fat in the bowl of your stand mixer.

How to: The Creaming Method

With the mixer on a good medium speed (I use “4” on my KitchenAid), beat the sugar and butter together for several minutes, stopping the mixer and scraping down the beater and bowl as needed.

What happens during this time is the sugar granules are cutting tiny holes into the fat (butter), which incorporates air, and causes the fat to soften and increase in volume. You’ll notice the batter change drastically in color and texture.

How to: The Creaming Method

Are you guilty of inadequate aeration? Undercreaming is quite common. Stop mixing when the mixture appears light and creamy. You should no longer be able to see sugar granules, but you can still feel them if you rub a little of the batter between your fingers (try this next time you make cookies!).

How to: The Creaming Method

Next, add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each. This is so that the fats have a chance to emulsify and come together with the batter. Add them all at once and you’ll overwhelm the batter, causing it to separate and appear curdled.

How to: The Creaming Method

Add the dry ingredients slowly while mixing on low, alternating with any other liquids (such as in a cake recipe). Again, adding these ingredients slowly helps to not overwhelm the batter, which can encourage overmixing.

How to: The Creaming Method

Finally, add any additions, such as chocolate chips, mixing only until incorporated.

How to: The Creaming Method

The creaming method is most responsible for texture in the final baked good. Do it properly and you’ll have a tender cake and chewy cookie every time.

Questions? Leave me a comment or send me a message.

Recipes using the Creaming Method

The Creaming Method Recipes
Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies | Brown Butter Skillet Cookie | Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies | Burnt Sugar Bundt Cake | Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies | Gooey Cinnamon Squares | Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars | Peanut Butter Buttercream | Southern Coconut Cake

 

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18 Responses to Baking Essentials: The Creaming Method

  1. Love the step by step and tips! So helpful!

  2. Amazing and truly helpful post, thank you for sharing these tips!

    xo, Elisa

  3. Erin R. says:

    Excellent, detailed explanations and photos. THANK YOU for giving the speed number on your Kitchenaid. I always have a little bit of doubt in my mind when recipes say things like “low speed” or “medium heat.” I know what those things are, but it’s good to know an exact number or setting that the recipe writer used. Great post.

  4. Perfect post! I think so many people (including myself at one time) didn’t really know what it meant to cream something! Or they melt the butter in the microwave.

  5. Karao says:

    I disagree with your comment that you MUST have a mixer with a paddle and nothing else will do. That’s sort of elitist to say that unless someone can afford a $300 mixer then they might as well just eff off now becuase they’ll never achieve the perfect cream.

    That’s baloney. Plenty of cooks and chefs have creamed butter and sugar with electric mixers, food processors, and even (*gasp*) by HAND!!!! Yes, it takes longer and it’s not as easy, but it’s entirely possible.

    Please don’t make out like proper baking *requires* expensive stand mixers. It doesn’t. It just requires time and patience (and maybe a strong arm).

    • Annalise says:

      I think if you want to cream butter and sugar properly with a kitchen appliance, a stand mixer with a paddle attachment is the way to go. The power of the mixer combined with the paddle attachment slaps the fat against the side of the bowl and scrapes the sugar into it. With a hand-held mixer, the metal beaters just throw the batter around inside of the bowl, and a food processor just blends it up. No technical “creaming” going on there. You can of course use a spoon and a little elbow grease (which I do from time to time), it’ll just take much longer. It’s not a MUST for you to use a stand mixer to make cookies, cakes, etc., it’s just how you’re going to get the best results by creaming the fat and sugar properly.

    • margaret says:

      And a great many other factors and skills impact the final result.

  6. jen says:

    I love this series, baking can be intimidating for some people. This demystifies it, love that.

  7. What’s up to all, it’s really nice for me to pay a visit on this web page, it includes precious information. Thanks!

  8. Dawn says:

    I just had to say that I agree with you about the paddle attachment on the stand mixer.I am pretty sure when creaming the butter for buttercream frosting you can not use your hand or even a hand held mixer.And my Kitchen Aid mixer was only 180 not 300.Your post about the correct way to cream was lovely.And if people have nothing nice to say then they should not say anything at all!!

  9. Hi there, just wanted to mention, I enjoyed this blog post. It was inspiring. Keep on posting

  10. salma says:

    what are the different cake types example; rubbing in, creaming

  11. adenike says:

    Hi I enjoyed this blog post. Keep on posting

  12. Agnese Mori says:

    Really many thanks for this post! The method is extremely well explained and it has been very useful for me! Thanks a lot!
    Agnese

  13. Margie says:

    To cream sugar and butter in a stand mixer using regular, not paddle, beaters, I can’t seem to get it to a creamy consistency. How long should I beat it at medium speed to get it creamy ?
    Thank you.

  14. Michelle Melhado says:

    Thanx so much for the info..nice
    addition of pics to show stage..
    I’m currently doing a course in
    cake baking & decoratin
    Once again thanx a whole lot.

  15. margaret says:

    Paddle attachments may work well, but I think they’re highly overrated – exquisite baking was produced for centuries before there were stand mixers with paddle attachments, although presumably with more elbow grease. My stand mixer doesn’t have a paddle attachment, but I produce perfectly lovely baked goods with it using the large beaters.

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