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Creaming butter by hand - beat or cut and fold?

I never, ever bake, so I have no electric mixer. Thus I'm creaming butter by hand. Ought I beat the two together, or cut and fold the two together? I realize the goal is to add air to the mixture, but I'm unsure which is more effective. The former seems like it would beat the air both in and out, the latter seems like it might not add enough air into the mixture.

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  1. A large fork works fairly well. If you have a stout (not the wire type) dough blender you could start with that, then finish up with a large fork. It's the whipping action, not the pressing action, that brings the air into the mix so don't be afraid to use the wrist action to accomplish that goal.

    1. You want to beat, with a mixing sppon (the wooden type), since the objectives are to incorporate some air and mix the sugar in so thoroughly it dissolves.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

        Well I used a mortar to smash the butter, then used the ole wood spoon to cut-and-fold until the mixture was incorporated well (which took forever), and then beat/whipped it until soft and expanded. Tiring work, although I think I made it harder on myself than necessary as I was paranoid about letting the butter get too warm, so I started with it still quite cold.

        1. re: fame da lupo

          I think it's much easier to use the back of the spoon to incorporate the sugar - just keep pushing it against the butter and sort of smear it against the side of the bowl. Then, as the butter softens up and the sugar dissolves into it, you can start fluffing the mixture up.

          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

            Wood does not transmit heat like metal, so wood is a better tool material for this...

      2. Agree with Caitlin McGrath, use a wooden spoon, that's what my Nana always used. And yes, the sugar needs to be dissolved. Make sure the butter is at room temp.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Phurstluv

          68F. Anything much warmer and the butter will start to melt, which will defeat its ability to help hold the air.

        2. i didn't think the purpose of creaming was anything but thoroughly softening the butter or fat and incorporating the sugar -- not beating air into the mixture.

          2 Replies
          1. re: alkapal

            The purpose is to create tiny air pockets where the gasses during cooking can fluff the cookie, making it less dense and more chewy.

            1. re: fame da lupo

              ok, good to know. the only thing i've really creamed is the shortening and sugar for my family's sour cream pound cake. now i'll cream with a conscience. ;-).

              http://www.springerlink.com/content/1...

          2. Lots of great replies but don't over think it - just quickly get the butter and sugar together. Personally, I use a fork and pull it through the butter and then turn and pull again.