Kitchen appliances help us a lot with cooking and baking. But what happens if one of them breaks down? It’s always great to have a back up to a mixer. For instance, learn how to cream butter and sugar without a mixer, using your own two hands.
I love that feeling of satisfaction when I have made something with my own two hands. One of the easiest ways to do that for me is in the kitchen. A lot of the times, cooking is a way of relaxing and maybe even exercise. Moving my hands more and making something great are a reward in itself and a huge satisfaction in the end. Especially since we live in a world where time management is an issue and we look for the quickest solution to everything. But there are times when it’s best to slow down.
It’s no wonder that sometimes I like to let go of the mixer and just blend in things by hand. If you want to try this form of relaxation, then maybe you should learn how to cream butter and sugar with nothing but your hands and a wooden spoon. It’s something that I learned from my grandma a long time ago and still sometimes do that in her old-fashioned kitchen. She has maybe two mixers, received as gifts from my cousins, but she still likes to do things in a classical way.
Creaming the butter with sugar is often a requirement in recipes you find online and it’s an important process you need for shortcakes, cookies, and cakes. But it’s different than blending two things together, mixing, stirring, or beating. Creaming butter and sugar together means that you make the butter fluffier thanks to the movement of your fork. The butter gets aerated. You’re folding it over and over and creating pockets of air. If you add sugar, then you’re building up a network of fat, air, and sugar crystals.
But why do you need the air? Because this process, called “mechanical leavening”, is cramming air into the dough so that in the oven that same air will puff up. Because the creamed pieces conduct heat faster, which leads to butter melting faster. Creaming that basic dough also gives you a precious gift: it makes the dough bigger in volume. Which means that if you’re making cookies, you can make more after the creaming. So now that we know that, let’s begin!
How to cream butter and sugar in 5 simple steps
1. Gather your ingredients
You will need 1 cup of butter (225 grams). Pick some butter without salt, for the best taste. You will also require 2 cups of sugar. I use brown sugar because it’s less refined than the white one. You can cream the two together using a fork or a wooden spoon. And of course, do the process in a large bowl!
2. Soften your butter
Which is a much too fancy way of saying: remember to remove the butter from the fridge or freezer and then wait for it to soften at room temperature. Be careful though, because if the butter is too warm, then creaming might be an issue.
3. Blend the butter and sugar together
Place the softened butter in a bowl. Pour the sugar on top of it. Then use a wooden spoon to mix them together like you would any other ingredients. You can also use your wonderful two hands to work the sugar into the butter.
Or at least get inspired by the scrambling motion. Use a fork to beat the butter and the sugar together, in a motion similar to the one you use when you scramble an egg. You have to keep going for a few minutes – depending on how much sugar and butter you have – until you can recognize no more streaks of butter in the cream. (Yes, it does take some elbow grease to learn how to cream butter and sugar)
While you’re creaming, make sure to scrape the bottom and walls of the bowl, otherwise, there will start to form a dense film of butter and sugar. Which might ruin some of your cookies if you don’t pay attention and scrape it!
At first, the dough will feel like wet sand. It will then turn into damp clay. Then it softens and also expands. Stop when the final texture is light and fluffy!
As opposed to kneading and other kitchen processes, you can’t over cream the two items together. The more you work them, the more air you’re going to have and the better final product.