Creaming Fat (Ghee or Butter) and Sugar
A typical cake, or a cookie recipe calls for creaming Fats and Sugar, followed by adding egg milk and eventually the flour and dry ingredients
In United States, common fat used is unsweetened Butter. In India, Ghee is Used instead, or in combination with butter.
How Creaming works?
When fat and sugar are creamed together, the sugar crystals cut into the fat. The sugar crystal and air get trapped in butter creating tiny little bubbles. Proper creaming helps disperse these tiny bubbles uniformly leading to a evenly distributed rise when baked.
Leavening agents (baking soda) makes these tiny bubbles bigger. With moisture and heat, leavening agents release Carbon dioxide that gravitates to the tiny bubbles and causes the tiny bubbles to balloon-up.
How to cream?
You can cream by hand beating or using an electric mixer/beater. Make sure all the ingredients and utensils including the mixing bowl are at room temperature or even cooler. Use a wooden spoon. Beat fat with wooden spoon so it is soft. If the butter is to hard, cut it in to ½" pieces. If you are using Ghee, you don't have to worry about softening it.
Add sugar and beat till mixture is light and fluffy. It will take about 8 to 10 minutes for creaming.
Watch out for temperature and speed of creaming
1. The sugar fat mixture should not be under creamed. The rise will not be even
2. The sugar fat mixture should not be over-creamed, creamed too fast or the fat is too warm. The fat will start to breakdown and release air from tiny bubbles.
3. The fat should not be too cold. Cold temperature makes it hard and the sugar can not cut into the fat. The fat should be about 65º F for Ghee, or 67º F for butter.
4. Always start at a low speed. Go to medium speed after the tiny bubbles have started to form. Medium speed will help multiply tiny bubble. Do not use high speed. After the fat sugar has been creamed, use low speed to add new ingredients such as egg, or milk. The dry ingredients should be added in stages.
Watch for following signs for creaming
1. All the sugar crystals have been coated with butter
2. The volume of fat and sugar mixture increases because of air trapped in tiny bubbles
3. Texture would be fluffy, the fats are still plastic (solid). If there is more sugar than the fats, the mixture will not be fluffy and light. It would be somewhat creamy.
The amount of fats should be at least 30% more than sugar
4. The mixture gets sticky, the wooden spoon or beaters would seem to get stuck when lifted
5. When touched, it will have a consistency of a thick gritty paste. The grittiness is due to sugar
How to cream for low fats?
If you want to reduce the amount of total fat, divide the sugar in two parts. Use one part slightly less than fats to cream fat-sugar. Add the remaining sugar along with flour as a part of dry ingredients.
- Use fats that are solid at room temperature. The Ghee and Butter hold the the air in the tiny bubbles well. Margarine does not hold the trapped air well. The fats should be around 67ºF
- Finer the sugar crystal, smaller are the tiny bubbles
- The ingredients and utensils to be used should be around 65º F to 70º F. Butter at 67º F is ideal to keep the air trapped in the tiny bubbles.
Use eggs at room temperature before adding to creamed mixture. Submerge refrigerated eggs (still in shell) in a bowl of warm tap water for about 5 to 10 minutes
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