All you scratch bakers, can someone please help me with the creaming method? I know i am not doing it right. I know this is one of the most important steps to scratch baking. My cakes always collapse in the middle while baking in the oven. This never happens with my cakes when i make the with oil instead of butter. I can't figure out if i'm overmixing or undermixing. Can someone give me some basics to creaming like:
How long / how many minutes do you cream for?
how long do you let your ingredients sit out of the frig for?
what speed do you mix at?
If I'm doing a lot of baking (like around the holidays), then I have 1lb blocks of butter sitting out on my counter all the time (well, until I use them up! ;D). Since I store my bulk butter in the freezer, often I will get it out the night before and let it sit overnight on the counter.
- Generally you want your butter, eggs, and liquid (unless specified otherwise) to be between 60-70 deg F.
Put the butter in the mixer first and then beat the heck out of it -- say med high speed for 3 minutes - you want the butter nice and creamy.
Then scrape the bowl so that all the butter is in the bottom of the bowl.
Then add your sugar and beat on low until incorporated.
Turn back up to med-high and beat until light and fluffy, should take around 2-3 min.
Make sure your baking powder or baking soda (whichever you are using) is FRESH. If it has expired - toss it and buy new.
Do sift your dry ingredients together. This insures that the levening (baking powder/soda) is evenly distributed.
Do add the dry ingred and wet ingred according to the instructions in the recipe. Some say to add in alternating amounts, some say all of both together, and still some others say all of one and then all of the other.
It is theoretically possible to under or over beat a batter, but in general, you're not very likely to do so to such a degree as to greatly affect the texture of the cake. I beat on med-high until the batter is smooth and has a consistent look to it - no lumps or streaks of flour, butter, egg, etc.
Some recipes will say that streaks of
ingredient are okay, some will say to beat just until batter comes together and that lumps are okay. Trust the recipe (at least the first time, then make changes if you want to play with it).
Hope these tips help. If you're more of a visual person, Alton Brown has a great episode of Good Eats on making a cake by the creaming method. It's episode 13 of season 6, titled A Cake on Every Plate.
This is a great site for learning the science of baking as well as the necessary techniques: