Monday, April 2, 2012

Creaming Technique

Never having trained professionally in pastry (only in breadmaking), I've had my share of cookies and cakes go sideways from improperly creamed butter, sugar, and eggs.  I think the issue for the home baker is that recipes always say after creaming the sugar into the butter, "Add your eggs one at a time, blending completely before proceeding," or something to that effect.  The issue is, in a commercial bakery, if you add your eggs one at a time into a large bowl that is continously mixing, each incremental egg adds only a little liquid (e.g. a large batch of cookies might have 30 or 40 eggs).  But at home, you might only be using a recipe that calls for two or four eggs -- meaning that each additional egg adds a lot of liquid (proportionally) that could potentially break the the butter's emulsion (butter is essentially air trapped in fat -- once that seal is broken, the butter goes oily and you end up with a greasy pastry).

My current at-home fix to this problem is to add a little of the flour I would ordinarily add at the end as I am blending in the eggs.  After tossing in an egg (and if the solution ever looks like it is going to get kind of wet or liquidy), I toss in a quarter or eighth of a cup.  This has worked out really well thus far.  Let me know if it works for you at home.

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