Mixed in flour instead of sugar with butter...sugar came later, problem?

Discussion in 'Cakes' started by ReadySetBAKE!, Aug 4, 2017.

  1. ReadySetBAKE!

    ReadySetBAKE! New Member

    Aug 4, 2017
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    Northern California
    I was doing a basic yellow lemon cake recipe this evening and accidentally added the flour/baking powder/salt combo directly into the butter instead of the sugar. Combined it all, added eggs then realized my mistake. Added the sugar and milk and just blended it all. Is there anything specific that might happen with this kind of blunder?

    Mental note - next time I double check ingredient order. :p

    Anyone do anything similar? And how did your cake turn out?
    ReadySetBAKE!, Aug 4, 2017
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  2. ReadySetBAKE!

    ninamari Well-Known Member

    Jul 13, 2017
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    Sounds like your recipe was using the creaming method. From what I understand, by creaming the butter and sugar together (which is referred to as the creaming method), the sugar cuts into the butter and creates air pockets which help the final product rise during baking (with the aid of a chemical leavening agent such as baking powder in this case). Since this aids in the rising, I'm assuming your cake wouldn't rise as much as it should have, but I'm just speculating :p

    How did your cake turn out?

    My most recent recipe blunder was just last Sunday! I was making a banana bread and after creaming the butter and sugar together, the next step was to add the eggs. So I promptly dumped all of my eggs at once. What's wrong with that picture? Well, I neglected to review my notes on this recipe prior to adding the eggs. The eggs were supposed to be added a little at time, incorporating well after each addition. I didn't want to start over so I threw caution to the wind and just started mixing. Of course, I ended up with a curdled mixture but I just kept mixing and mixing until it finally came back together. The finished product was very tasty (thank goodness!) but now I'm wondering if that's why I didn't get a lovely rise on the top... of course, it could have also been me opening the oven too soon... the recipe did say to turn the pan around after 15 minutes... but then again, this recipe was from a pastry school that use convection ovens ;)

    But that's the beauty of it, we learn with each experience :D
    ninamari, Aug 4, 2017
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  3. ReadySetBAKE!

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

    Jun 23, 2017
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    Northern California
    Hello welcome to the forum. Do not fret, we've all been there.

    It's not a fatal mistake. The mistake will result in a denser cake.

    It may help to understand the mixing process. Mixing processes are actually standardize. Once you understand them you won't even need to look at the recipe instructions. There are several types of mixing methods. The most common is the creaming method.

    Standard creaming method is a four step method. ALL cake and cookie recipes developed with the creaming method follow these four steps, in this order. Cookies do not contain liquid (e.g., milk, sour cream, etc) so in a creamed cookie recipe, in Step 4 just add the dry ingredients in three additions.

    Step 1: Mix all dry ingredients EXCEPT sugar, set aside

    Why: leavening needs to be evenly distributed throughout the batter to create a uniform texture. The amount of leavening is so small compared to the flour, so it's very important to distribute that leavening throughout all that flour.

    While most recipes instruct you to stir or whisk the dry ingredients together, the gold standard is to sift them at least twice. I sift three times. You sift after measuring out the flour. In the last decade or so, bakers have dismissed sifting. But a uniform texture and a level cake starts with sifting the dry ingredients. I never have to level my cakes. I never have issues with doming. And that's largely attributed to sifting my dry ingredients.

    Step 2: Cream the butter and sugar

    Why: The creaming method obviously gets its name from this step. But this step is actually mechanical leavening. Beating the fat creates air pockets in the butter. The sugar crystals cuts through the butter, helping to create more air pockets in the butter. The trapped air in the butter helps create lift in batter as it's bakes. So the cake crumb is light and airy.

    While this step seems simple enough, just beat the sugar into the butter, if not done correctly, it will have an adverse effect on the finished product. Butter temperature should be between 68° and 70°. Incorporating air into the fat is best done in this temperature range. In addition, butter that is too warm to start will simply get hotter from the friction during beating. Butter separates when it melts. Melted butter cannot trap air, so the cake will be denser. In addition the separated butter will impart a greasy feel to the cake.

    Step 3: Mix eggs into the creamed butter one at a time to incorporate

    Why: A cake batter is an emulsion. An emulsion is the suspension of one liquid into another. They are normally liquids that do not mix well together, like oil and water. By adding the eggs one at a time, you beat the egg into smaller droplets to ensure it is suspended in the fat. If you do not properly emulsify the batter during the mixing process, the fat and liquid ingredients will separate. A separated batter is referred to as curdled.

    Step 4: alternately mix in dry ingredients and liquids, starting with a third of the flour mix, then half the liquid.

    Why: This again is about emulsification. If you simply dump in all the liquid and dry ingredients in at once, it may not emulsify into the fat mixture. Failing to alternately add the dry and wet ingredients is probably the number one cause of a curdled batter. Trust me, at some point we will all curdle a batter--even Hollywood and Berry have a curdled batter or two in their past.

    You always start and finish with dry ingredients. So the dry ingredients is added in three additions, the liquid in two. As mentioned above, cookies do not contain liquid. So in a cookie recipe, the dry ingredients are added in three additions.

    The more you bake, the more you learn. You will eventually memorize the different mixing processes. It becomes second nature. When I create or copy recipes down I simply copy the ingredients list, then write a single mixing instruction ("creaming" "foam" etc.) to indicate the mixing method. I was telling someone here recently that I really needed to go through my baking binder and write down the instructions for each recipe. When I die, whoever takes my baking binder may need the instructions.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2017
    Norcalbaker59, Aug 4, 2017
    RedShoe likes this.
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