About creaming butter


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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?
 
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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.
 
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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
 
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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 :)
 
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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.
 

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