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The first step in many of our baking recipes call for “beating butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy,” but what does that actually mean, and why do we need to do it?
The technique of beating or creaming butter and sugar (this also applies to shortening and margarine) lays the groundwork for your baked product. During this step, you’re incorporating air into your batter. This process will determine how the texture of your baked goods will turn out. The coarse sugar crystals cut into the butter creating air pockets, or bubbles. These bubbles are what will give your cake or cookie “lift” and rise (with the help of baking soda and/or baking powder). The air bubbles will also cause your butter/sugar mixture to lighten, or pale, in colour. The amount of bubbles created depend on what tool you use to cream your batter (electric mixers will work better than a whisk) and how long you cream the batter (the longer, the more air bubbles).