About creaming butter


Joined
Feb 12, 2020
Messages
250
Reaction score
116
Now I know the "proper" way to cream butter is to start with 60-65F butter, or even straight from the fridge, and beat on around a medium speed for quite some time, around 5 minutes. And eggs that are added should be cold to keep the temperature of the mixture low. The reasoning behind this is to best facilitate the mechanical leavening from this process and making the butter lighter and fluffier. However, in cookies sometimes you purposely don't want a "light and fluffy" mixture, which is why some recipes will call for melting butter instead of creaming. Generally, especially for most American-style drop cookies, a bit of denseness is desired, up to a certain point.

My dilemma is when using a recipe that calls for the "improper" way of creaming, that is, using butter and eggs that are too warm (in other words, virtually every recipe published on the internet and in cookbooks, since they always call for "room temperature" butter and eggs). As those recipes were developed and tested using the "improper" creaming technique, is it actually recommended to use the proper technique of cold ingredients when making it myself? My intuition is that changing it may actually overdo the mechanical leavening and make the cookies too cakey.

Of course if it's a cake recipe, then I figure it's ok to disregard any of these concerns, as having a lighter and fluffier cake is almost always better. After all, having a cake be even cakier is a good thing, no?
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Feb 12, 2020
Messages
250
Reaction score
116
While on the topic of creaming, another question came to mind. The classic method is creaming butter and sugar, adding vanilla with the eggs, and sifting/whisking your dry ingredients like leaveners, salt, and ground spices with the flour to add after. However, I've seen some recipes include the vanilla, salt, leaveners, ground spices, etc. in the initial creaming process instead of adding them in later stages. Which method is recommended? Does it even matter? I know fat carries flavour, so it makes sense why adding extracts like vanilla at the start to the butter may make sense. However, for the other ingredients the only reasoning I can see is either better distribution, or it really doesn't matter so it's simpler to just throw more of the ingredients into the bowl at the start.
 
Joined
Jun 23, 2017
Messages
3,576
Reaction score
1,905
The creaming of the butter doesn’t cause a puffy cakey cookie texture. But I’ll get to cake texture in a minute. There isn’t much difference in time in creaming room temperature or cold butter. Even room temperature butter must be creamed for four minutes or so to be properly The problem is by the time it’s properly aerated the temperature is too high.


When you cream butter at 65°F by the time you’re finished creaming it, the friction from beating the butter has increased the temperature significantly. But you’re not doing anything to the butter to make a cakey texture.

what causes a puffy soft cake like texture is the leavening. Baking soda is an alkaline. Alkaline interferes with the protein denaturalization in the egg. The slower the protein coagulates, the more the cookie spreads. The greater surface area on the baking sheet will make a crispier or possibly chewier cookie depending on the other ingredients.

If bleached flour, baking powder and higher egg ratio, the cookie will have a puffy cake like texture. The baking powder has an acid that neutralizes the alkaline, so it won’t interfere with the egg protein. The bleachEd flour also has a lower protein, making a softer cookie. More egg also prevents the cookie from spreading. It also provides more water.



The temperature of this butter is 48.7°F. I did not wait for this butter to reach 65°F. I started mixing my dough when this butter was in the 50s.
2F6AEE9D-BDB0-4E95-973C-3573C42758A2.jpeg


By the time I finished mixing the dough the temperature increased to 67.6°F. This is why I’ve cream butter straight out of the refrigerator. friction from the mixture causes a tremendous amount of heat. The butter was creamed a 4.5 min. I set a timer for 2 min; scrape the bowl, then beat another 2.5 min
671946B8-FA51-42AD-9047-8441F5B7FF1D.jpeg


These are the cookies from that dough
385700BB-0E73-4881-A62D-96EADAC245F5.jpeg
 
Joined
Feb 12, 2020
Messages
250
Reaction score
116
I guess I'll just stick with the colder temperatures of butter then. It's weird how I see many recipe writers say you want "room temperature" butter because you can't cream cold butter. Sure that may be true using a hand mixer, but a stand mixer can easily handle butter straight from the fridge, and it's not like recipe developers don't have access to a stand mixer.

Thanks for the tid bit about baking soda vs. baking powder in egg coagulation. I knew that baking soda created more spread than baking powder, but never knew why!

I'm also still wondering about the order of adding ingredients in the creaming process. Does it really matter when the vanilla, salt, leaveners, etc. are added? I realize it's such a minor detail, but you've probably also realized now that I tend to ask quite a lot of questions :)
 
Joined
Jun 23, 2017
Messages
3,576
Reaction score
1,905
I guess I'll just stick with the colder temperatures of butter then. It's weird how I see many recipe writers say you want "room temperature" butter because you can't cream cold butter. Sure that may be true using a hand mixer, but a stand mixer can easily handle butter straight from the fridge, and it's not like recipe developers don't have access to a stand mixer.

Thanks for the tid bit about baking soda vs. baking powder in egg coagulation. I knew that baking soda created more spread than baking powder, but never knew why!

I'm also still wondering about the order of adding ingredients in the creaming process. Does it really matter when the vanilla, salt, leaveners, etc. are added? I realize it's such a minor detail, but you've probably also realized now that I tend to ask quite a lot of questions :)

Yes, a hand mixer can’t handle cold butter. Certainly it‘s important to know what to look for as you are creaming the butter. As I mentioned, I set a timer for 2 mins, then scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. I’m also looking that the texture and color the of the butter. Then I set the timer for another 2.5 mins. I scrape again and look. If the butter still looks and feels heavy, I will beat it a bit longer. I only use the same two brands of butter, Plugra and Kerrygold. So I know what they should look like when they are properly creamed. If you find a brand butter you like, you’ll get to recognize when it’s “done.”:)

I like that you ask questions because it makes me think through things. I have a lot of information in my brain, but sometimes the relationship of things are not alway crystal clear to me. My first thought when I read your question was the obvious, that we just need to make sure we distribute the leavening as evenly as possible. So it can be added to the dry or the butter during creaming. What is important when added to dry is it is whisked or sifted in thoroughly to ensure it is distributed well.

But it’s more complex than that in some ways. We have to ask, what is the purpose of mixing?

We talk about the methods of mixing, (e.g., creaming, muffin method, high-ratio, etc.) but there’s a broader scope to consider in mixing. Bread doughs are mixed to develop gluten networks. On the opposite end of the spectrum are batters which we call emulsions. Batters are a multiphase mixture. They consists of individual solid particles (e.g, sugar and salt crystals, egg proteins, sodium bicarbonate) surround in an aqueous phase with flour particles. The fat phase is non-water soluble, with unstable air molecules entrapped in it.

The reasons for mixing bread doughs are completely different for mixing batter. So your question got me thinking—what are the goals for mixing cookie dough?

Cookie dough is different from bread and batter. But if I give it some thought, I would have to say its an emulsion.

So the mixing method we use has to take the goal into consideration first. What is it we are ultimately trying to achieve. Then from there, we have to figure out the order of the ingredients.

In an angel food cake, we take out the egg yolks, whip the egg whites and fold in bleached flour and sugar because the goal is a super high rise and a very white cake. No chemical leavening at all.
 
Joined
Oct 1, 2020
Messages
222
Reaction score
109
@Cahoot always asks the best questions! And I too am wondering if mixing in the leavening, flavors and spices at the start make a more uniform cookie. Don’t keep us in suspense @Norcalbaker59
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Jun 23, 2017
Messages
3,576
Reaction score
1,905
@Cahoot always asks the best questions! And I too am wondering if mixing in the leavening, flavors and spices at the start make a more uniform cookie. Don’t keep us in suspense @Norcalbaker59

I mix my leavening and salt in when I cream my butter and sugar.

If I add any spices, I mix that into my sugar.

Extracts are always mixed into my egg.

Zest is infused into the sugar by rubbing into the sugar, and then I’ll leave it to sit for a bit before I use it.

Some spices like lavender buds are too strong to grind into food. I placed lavender buds and 400 g of sugar in a jar with a tight lid. I leave the sugar 2 weeks minimum, then sieve the lavender buds out.


My cookies are always very uniform in shape. I don’t think it has anything to do with when I add leavening and spices. Rather it has to do with the plasticity of the butter, the types of sugar, and the level of protein in the flour. All of these factors control the spread of the cookie. These two cookies are completely different formulas but when I make them, they’re always very uniform.

chocolate chip dough balls are left round on tray
E4309FCE-AF0C-41F3-892B-42F52276BA9F.jpeg


peanut butter dough balls are flatten slightly with fork on tray
47D4FA20-01D9-41B4-93A2-E051EB4C90B8.jpeg
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jun 23, 2017
Messages
3,576
Reaction score
1,905
Ah, I shall do likewise for the spices, flours and extracts @Norcalbaker59

Sorry, I thought that putting leavening with the butter and sugar was called reverse creaming.
Turns out it was mixing the butter with the flour!


Your peanut butter cookie is making me crave for some

@ShuBunny Ah, ok.

Reverse creaming is a term made up by Rose Levy Rosenbaum for the Two Stage Method, which is a commercial mixing method for cake.

Most bakery cakes are not made from scratch. But when cake is made from scratch more often than not, it is not made with butter because of the cost, the short shelf life, low rise, and dryness of the crumb. Instead, cake is formulated with what is called a high ratio plastic shortening and high ratio cake flour. While butter taste great, it actually makes a dry cake. It is not really plastic; that just refers to the quality of its

The shortening that is sold in grocery stores is all purpose shortening. It does not contain emulsifiers. The high ratio shortenings used in the bakery industry contains emulsifiers and is only sold to the trade.

Emulsifiers increase the liquid that can be suspended in an a emulsion like a cake batter; increase the amount of air cells that can be incorporated into a batter or dough; increase the liquid that is dispersed into the batter or dough. Given it emulsification properties, it produces a cake with more volume with a more tender crumb. But is it also a trans fat. Trans fats were banned in the US in 2018. So the high ratio shortenings were re-formulated in the US; the re-formulated high ratio shortenings do not perform well. But I digress.

The mixing method for high ratio shortening is actually called the Two Stage Method. The flour and dry ingredients are mixed with the shortening. Then the liquids, including the eggs, are added in two stages.

Rose Levy Beranbaum printed a recipe using the two stage in which she added the butter to the dry ingredients, followed by the liquid. She called the cake White Velvet Cake.

But the cake does not have the characteristics of a high ratio cake because it is made with butter, not high ratio shortening. Butter contains water and does not have the emulsifiers. So the cake is denser than a cake a high ratio cake. In fact is is denser than a standard creamed cake. But it does make a softer crumb because the fat coats the flour, which inhibit gluten development. And since it is made with butter, it tastes better than a shortening cake.


There is a lot of speciality shortening formulated for specifically for the bakery industy.

 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Oct 1, 2020
Messages
222
Reaction score
109
Super interesting read! And the part that butter makes a cake dry. Gosh!
Would you substitute oil for butter, or partially? Just to get a more moist cake?
 
Joined
Jun 23, 2017
Messages
3,576
Reaction score
1,905
@Norcalbaker59 is it ever possible to run a bakery biz without using shortening / emulsifiers etc. Or it that just bad business sense?

I need to clarify, butter does NOT make a cake dry.

A cake made with butter is drier than a cake made with high ratio shortening because the composition of butter is very different from shortening so the two perform very differently.

High ratio shortening is 100% fat; it contains 0% water. It has a melting point of 115°F (46°C). It also contains emulsifiers so it performs better in the batter and dough reasons I explained above.

Butter contains between 80% - 83% fat; 18% - 15%; the remainder is milk solids. Butter does not contain any emulsifiers. It has a melting point of 93°F (33°C).

High ratio shortening will coat the inside of mouth; this to the sense that of a moister cake.

Of course you can successfully run a bakery without it if you educate your customers and you know how to manage your product line. If a customer orders a wedding cake, and its outdoors in 80°F (20°C) weather, you obviously can’t leave a meringue buttercream cake out in that weather. So the only choice you can offer the customer is a fondant covered cake. Or time delivery of a meringue buttercream cake right before the cake cutting ceremony. But such exact scheduling would require the entire wedding party and celebration to be time managed to ensure the cake was cut before it melted.

The two most common emulsifiers used in the bakery industry are mono- and diglycerides and lecithin. I mentioned the US ban trans fats. Before the ban mono and diglycerides were 50% monoglyceride, 40% diglyceride and 10% triglyceride, which made it a trans fat.

By using a distilled mono and diglycerides with 90% monoglyceride and less than 10% diglyceride they are able to eliminate the trans fat. But distilled mono and diglycerides Also changed the melting point and inhibits crystallization of the shortening during manufacturing. So the re-formulated shortening does not perform well at all. The poor performance has forced bakers to rethink their use of high ratio shortening.

Certainly if you are going to offer a product like donuts you’re going to need shortening for frying. and there may be some formula in which you may use a combination of butter and shortening. But you can certainly run a bakery without using shortening as s substitute for butter. I do not use shortening in any of my cakes, icings, or cookies.
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Oct 1, 2020
Messages
222
Reaction score
109
@Norcalbaker59

that's a good amount of information, I read the post (and tbh, most of your posts) thrice to digest it.

definitely using butter for the cookies and cakes for now. still very much baking for the love of it at the moment.
 

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments. After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.

Ask a Question

Top