The Key To Creaming Butter By Hand

published Dec 7, 2011
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(Image credit: Sarah Rae Smith)

5 months ago my stand mixer broke. I’m sure it’s something simple to fix, but I just haven’t had the time. Lame right? Totally. Instead, this holiday season I’ve made all my cookies by hand and there’s one major think you have to pay attention to when not using a mixer — creaming the butter!

Creaming butter is an important step in the process of baking. It gives your sugar lift and spreads out all the little granules and adds some air to your mixture. In the end, this hard work is rewarded with tender cookies that bake evenly without pooling or burning.

When creaming sugar by hand it’s a slightly more difficult process (just consider it your arm workout for the day), but you still need to achieve the same results. When using a mixer, one can usually tell their butter is ready to go when it turns lighter in color and is suddenly fluffy. When doing it by hand, you’re doing good if you can just get the two mixed together.

So how do you get super star results? Simple. With the back of a fork. But slicing off small ribbons of your butter and mixing them with your sugar before you start really working the two together, you’ll allow more air and sugar between the bits of butter and it requires less arm cranking around the bowl to achieve the same results.

(Image credit: Sarah Rae Smith)

How do you know you’re done? When you pull your sugar and butter mixture with a fork and you don’t see any small butter streaks left (like in the photo above). Remember, butter streaks mean pooling, burning and cookies that are less than uniform.

Do you make your cookies by hand? What’s your trick to creaming the butter with the least amount of effort possible? Let us know below!