UPDATED! How to Cream Butter and Sugar (With New Video!)

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Scene: {Daybreak} Your kitchen. You’re preparing to bake.

Ready to bake!

You’ve cleaned off that old KitchenAid stand mixer that you got as a gift, or you’ve unboxed that brand new KitchenAid hand mixer that the Amazon delivery person left just this morning. Because you’re You, you even turned on your equipment on to make sure that it works before you get started.

You’ve checked the recipe *generally* to make sure that you have everything that you need.

You’ve gathered your ingredients and prepared your mise en place. Your oven is set, your pans are prepped, and you’re ready to be a TOTAL KITCHEN BOSS.

You’re feeling good. You’re ready to start.

“Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.”

**Record scratch. Freeze frame.**

Beloved, if you have no idea what that means, you’re in the right place today. In this post, we are getting to the nitty gritty of what it truly means to cream butter and sugar using both a stand mixer and a hand mixer. This term appears constantly in baking recipes, and it’s confusing for so many people.

Creaming butter and sugar is also critical to the success of a recipe, so it’s super important that you get on the good foot with this technique. Otherwise, you can set yourself up to fail before you even start.

Let’s go!

In this Post:

TL;DR: I’m Just Here for the Videos

For those of you who are visual learners (or if you’re just in the mood to dance), I cover this subject very briefly in these video shorts; one is dedicated to the stand mixer, and the other–you guessed it–is dedicated to the hand mixer. Feel free to take a look and then come back here to fill in your learning!

Here’s the video for how to cream butter with a stand mixer:

And here’s a video for how to cream butter and sugar with a hand mixer:

They’re both really good, short videos to show you how to properly cream butter and sugar in each machine. For even more specifics, Family, keep reading!

What Does it Mean to Cream Butter and Sugar and Why is it Necessary?

Creaming is simply the act of combining granulated sugar and fat (usually butter, but sometimes cream cheese, shortening, or a mixture of fats) until the mixture is lighter in color, increases in volume, and the granulated sugar crystals are not as grainy. A finished creamed butter should look cloud-like and should feel silky, luscious, and ever so slightly grainy.

As I just mentioned, there are several different types of fat that you can use for creaming. In this post, I’ll discuss butter, but this creaming method can be used interchangeably for each type of fat.

This process is hugely important for baking recipes. You see, when you cream butter and sugar together, you’re manually whipping air into your baked goods. This air works with your leavening to create rise!

If your cakes have a tendency not to rise, dear reader, read on! Proper creaming changes everything and it’s the first recommendation that I make when someone comes to me with this specific problem.

Ingredient Rules

First, and this can’t be overstated: PLEASE DON’T USE COLD FAT. In order for maximum creaming effectiveness, the butter needs to be truly soft. Cold butter won’t combine well with granulated sugar, the sugar won’t blend at all, you will tax your mixer, and you will never arrive at the Texture Town destination that you seek.

You should be able to make an indention in your butter with the side a spatula or your finger.

To soften butter, the best method is to put it on your countertop…and leave it there. How long you leave it there depends on a couple of factors: 1) the room temperature (my kitchen is usually between 72°F and 75°F), 2) the butterfat content of your butter (I typically use Kerrygold or Finlandia); and 3) the size of the butter that you’re working with (I always cube my butter before letting it sit on the countertop to help it soften even faster).

Room temp matters for obvious reasons; the higher the temperature of your kitchen, the faster the melt and the quicker you can get to the fun part. The butterfat content matters because higher butterfat butters will melt faster than lower-butterfat butters. For more on this, check out my post on butter! The size of the butter plays into this as well; the smaller the chunks, the faster it starts to melt.

Under the conditions that I described above, I’m usually ready to get baking in about an hour (the cubing really moves things along). For low butterfat butters, unless your kitchen is very warm, I would not recommend moving onto the next phase for at least 90 minutes or more.

In order to get baking, you should be able to press a butter knife or the tip of your finger into the butter and make a good indention.

While it might be tempting to speed up this process in a microwave, it’s highly ill-advised because the butter will likely soften unevenly, with some spots that are properly softened and other spots completely melted.

The next thing to consider about your ingredients is that you cannot use confectioner’s sugar for this task. You need the solid sugar granules to create air pockets in the butter and to increase the volume of your butter. Confectioner’s sugar, with the consistency of powder, cannot do this. It’s a good start for buttercream though!

Finally, while some recipes will tell you to “mix on high speed”, that’s truly unnecessary. In a KitchenAid stand mixer with properly prepped ingredients, you’ll have a great creamed butter in 3-5 minutes on medium speed (somewhere between speeds 4 and 5). While a hand mixer will take a few minutes longer, you still don’t need to use the highest speed setting. Don’t tax your mixers for butter and sugar! Save that for the double pizza dough recipes!

Or don’t. You really shouldn’t tax your mixers, or you could end up in a sad place, like I did here.

Tools Needed

There are three different methods for creaming butter, and they each require different tools:

  • The Stand Mixer Method: You’ll need a stand mixer, the mixing bowl for that mixer (they lock into place so it’s important to have the bowl that’s meant for that specific mixer), your ingredients, and a rubber spatula.
  • The Hand Mixer Method: You’ll need a hand mixer, a mixing bowl, your ingredients, and a rubber spatula.
  • Mixing by Hand: You’ll need a wooden spoon, a fork, a mixing bowl, your ingredients, and, you guessed it, a rubber spatula.

In this specific post, we’ll cover creaming techniques that are done with stand and hand mixers. The method of creaming butter and sugar by hand is super nostalgic and and fun and I’ll cover it another time!

Technique for Creaming Butter

Once your butter is nice and soft, you’re ready to go. Start by adding just the butter to your mixing bowl and mix on low/medium speed (stand mixer: between speeds 2-3; hand mixer: between speeds 1-2) for about two minutes. I find that this helps the butter get to a consistent temperature and texture throughout, and makes for a better finished product.

Next, with your mixer still on low speed, slowly add the sugar. At this stage, the mixture will have the look and feel of wet sand. The hand mixer video will show you what this looks like with that tool!

Great. Now I want to go to the beach.

Once the sugar is completely added, you can gradually increase your speed until you reach a medium speed (stand mixer: between speeds 4-5; hand mixer: between speeds 3-4). At about the 2 minute mark, use your silicone spatula to get all in that bowl and scrape the whole thing. I mean it! Everything! Scrape the mixture off the rim, sides and bottom of the bowl and send it all back to the action. This is a messy business and ingredients are expensive! 😊

At this point, the mixture will be a tiny bit smoother and a tiny bit lighter in color. You’re not done yet.

Turn the mixer back on medium speed and let it go for another 1-2 minutes. If you watch the butter and sugar at this stage, you can actually see it start to loosen, grow in volume, and get noticeably lighter in color.

Yes. I have done this.

You’ll notice that it looks like there’s much more of it in the bowl; this isn’t true! You’re still working with the same amount, but this is aeration happening before your very eyes. And it’s amazingly cool.

Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Time to check your work with your rubber spatula. With a stand mixer, I’m usually done with creaming by the end of the second mix. Typically, with my hand mixer, it needs one more good mix before it’s ready to move onto the next step.

The Finished Product!

Your finished, creamed butter should be roughly two shades lighter than the butter that you started with, and it should be at least 2-3 times the volume of what you started with. Also, texture-wise, you’ll notice that the grains of sugar aren’t as hard and pronounced as they once were. That’s because they’ve started to dissolve during this process!

The completed, creamed butter should look kind of like this:

If you’re here, great! Time to give your mixing bowl one last good scrape and move on the “incorporating your eggs” part of the festivities. If not, don’t worry. Mix on low/medium speed for one-minute intervals until you’re there. You don’t want to go too long because you could actually end up over-creaming your butter and NOBODY WANTS THAT.

Just FYI: over-creamed butter is white, grainy, and greasy. This makes a good spread for toast or bagels, but it won’t do its job in your baked goods.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoy this tutorial and that it’s helpful for you on your baking journey. Remember, you’ll get better with practice so keep on baking! You’ll develop a feel for all of it, including creaming butter and sugar.

Got any lingering questions? Leave them in the comments section below!

Until next time. — Shani ❤️

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Do I Need a Stand Mixer to Start Baking?

Beloveds, the answer to that question is NO.

Want to know which tools you really need to start baking? Click here my FREE new ebook, the Buying Guide for Beginning Bakers!

In this Post:

About Stand Mixers

Friends, a stand mixer is a powerful machine that bakers use to thoroughly and evenly mix ingredients for pastries and bread. It’s a pretty heavy countertop appliance that can be the centerpiece of a kitchen. However, it can also come with a hefty price tag that makes it out of reach for many new bakers. This is especially true for those new bakers who aren’t sure if they want to continue baking!

The most commonly-known brand in the U.S. is KitchenAid; they make several different stand mixers at several price points, they come in every color under the rainbow (and even some limited release versions that they make for other vendors), and they come in sizes from a 3.5-quart mini to a 7-quart professional.

All KitchenAid models have something called planetary motion. That is simply a fancy way of saying that, once the mixer is locked in place, the mixing mechanism automatically spins smoothly and evenly through batters and doughs. It’s typically faster than mixing by hand and requires minimal hands-on effort.

This is my KitchenAid Artisan. She was a gift to me from my mother-in-law, who saw potential in me years ago and invested in me. She is a beauty and she works HARD:

She is not just for show.

While there are some legitimate competitors for out there that are arguably comparable in quality, KitchenAid is the heavyweight champ for home kitchens, even if it’s just because of better marketing.

Put another way, when someone says they “got a new KitchenAid,” I have never once assumed that that person was talking about a washer/dryer. #NoShadeKitchenAid

About Hand Mixers

A hand mixer is another powerful kitchen tool that helps you mix batters and doughs evenly. However, the planetary motion from a hand mixer is created by your wrist, not the mixer itself. This means that you have to use sight and feel to make sure that everything mixes evenly; you can’t rely nearly as much on the machine. This is how you learn baker’s touch.

These small but mighty machines do a fantastic job of creaming butter and sugar and incorporating ingredients. With proper technique, it is impossible to tell whether a baker used a stand mixer or a hand mixer.

To further my point, last week, I made this:

With this:

While KitchenAid makes an amazing hand mixer (I’m on my second one), there are several companies that make hand mixers that are wonderful. I honestly believe that every mother in my neighborhood growing up had the 80s versions of this Cuisinart or this Hamilton Beach hand mixer:

There are those among us who own these mixers today and they still work perfectly. And, as the story, below, will show, working with a hand mixer has done more to help me develop a better feel for batter and dough than working with a stand mixer ever has.

Don’t get me wrong! I use my stand mixer all the time. But, again, you don’t need one to start baking.

Time for a story of abject failure and devastation to prove my point.

Story Time

Before I had that beautiful KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer, my mother-in-law actually gifted me another KitchenAid Ultra Power mixer.

I am extremely fortunate and grateful that she did that for me.

I was a non-baker at the time, and I truly appreciated that KitchenAid as a beautiful countertop appliance. However, I did not initially appreciate the significance that this gift would play in my life.

She…was gorgeous. Still is:

Y’all. My mother-in-law is a literal angel sent from heaven. And not just because she gave me these mixers that catapulted my baking career. She is love personified, and she radiates sun beams of positivity wherever she goes. I just love her so much. #LoveYouMom

When this KitchenAid first appeared in my kitchen, I was awed by the gift (I’ve always loved kitchen gadgets, even before I started baking), but didn’t have a full appreciation for it until The Mediocre Sugar Cookie Bake of 2014. Before that experience, I was the cook whose KitchenAid hand mixer was in the kitchen, while the beaters for said mixer were in another room entirely. Or in a random “multi-purpose” box on the other side of the house somewhere. After that sugar cookie experience I caught the baking bug, and wanted to bake everything.

I also wanted to use my glistening new KitchenAid stand mixer for everything. At the start, I under-creamed butter and sugar for a solid year in this forgiving machine. Over-mixed cake batters and cookie doughs in this machine. Turned out the toughest muffins and driest cakes of my baking life in this machine. And got no more skilled as a baker just because I owned it.

I had all of the baking books and resources at my fingertips during those early days, but I wasn’t developing a baker’s touch with my Ultra Power stand mixer. And I worked it to the bone. Worked it until the top was super hot and it was dancing around the counter, trying to mix quadruple batches of bread dough.

It started one day as a modest thunk….thunk…thunk. Did I think anything of it? Nope. I powered through that bread dough (I kinda went through a phase were I was making large batches of bread all the time), and another bread dough, and another…

A couple of weeks later, the motor…quit. When I plugged in the machine and turned on the motor, it would glide lazily at low speed and low speed only. My machine went from superstar to paperweight in one bake. And that was one of many times that I cried in my kitchen. It has not been the same since, despite being “fixed” more than once.

After grieving (boy, did I grieve!) the loss of my stand mixer, I was determined to figure out what went wrong. I realized that I’d become too dependent on the stand mixer to do the work for me, and that I hadn’t fully committed to learning the techniques that would make me into a good baker.

I wasn’t developing the eye and the touch for when to stop mixing cake batter when I turned it on and left the stand mixer running while I did everything else. I wasn’t developing that eye and touch when I refused to watch the creaming process so that I could understand when to stop. I wasn’t developing that eye and touch for different bread dough textures when I just let the mixer knead huge batches for 15 minutes at a time.

The Moral of the Story

After ruining that mixer, I realized that I needed to see and feel what I was doing, so that I could develop a baker’s touch. That special touch developed very quickly when I started using my hand mixer. Now, I can use either mixer interchangeably, because I understand what the finished product is supposed to look like. I know what it’s supposed to feel like.

For those who started reading this post with the belief that they can’t bake without a stand mixer: I believed that and ran a beautiful machine into the ground. It’s absolutely not true. A strong commitment to learning the science and techniques with hand tools will make you a proficient baker more quickly than a stand mixer ever could.

Today, I have both mixers available to me. And guess what? Sometimes I don’t use either of them! If I have the time to use a wooden spoon or dough whisk to make something, and if the recipe is one that supports it, you’d better believe I’m reaching for those those implements first. Even if I’m doing something for my custom bakery! It’s all about touch.

Because, Dear Family, you do not need an expensive stand mixer to begin your journey as a home baker.

I hope you found this post helpful! If you have any questions, you can always send me an email!

Until next time!

-S

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Check Out My FREE New Buying Guide for Beginning Bakers!

Welcome to Begin with Butter! My name is Shani, and I’m the resident Butter Ambassador and owner on this site. I’m the quirky, nerdy, self-taught, fun-loving guide that’s here to lead you through the initial phases of your baking journey.

And I’m so excited today to share a brand new, FREE ebook that’s going to make your baking life much, much easier!

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Want to know what you’ll get if you download the ebook? Take a peek at this sample page!

This site is for the newbies–the new bakers and non-bakers who want to become consistent and proficient bakers. I know proficiency is possible, since I went from a non-baker myself in 2014 to a custom bakery owner now.

My philosophy is simple: you can become a great baker if you’re willing to start from the beginning and learn the hows and whys. If you already know that baking isn’t cooking, you’re off to a great start!

In other words, it’s the technique for me. 😊 But, in order to execute those techniques, you need a few simple gadgets.

And that’s where lots and lots and LOTS of people get stuck.

Don’t Worry! I’ve Got the Solution! And it’s Free!

With all of the resources and baking shows out here, it’s easy to think that you need a stand mixer, a blast chiller, fondant, and an unlimited supply of bowls to even get started as a baker. And that, all by itself, is discouraging enough to make you quit before you’ve started.

While those things are nice, they’re not necessary. So, I wrote my new, FREE “Buying Guide for Beginning Bakers” with my favorite starter gadgets to help you understand exactly what you need for your first foray into cupcakes, muffins, and cookies.

In addition to telling you what you need to get started, you’ll learn why you need it. There are even (non-affiliate) links in the book so that you can go directly to individual sites and find the exact same gadgets that I use in my kitchen!

It’s a F R E E resource that’s available for download right now. For those of you who have some things, but aren’t sure whether you have everything you need, you can double check the list and be confident that you’ll be ready to get started. After reading this guide, you’ll be able to confidently start executing many baking recipes without a trip to Target or the agonizing wait for the Amazon delivery truck.

And did I mention that it’s free?

Maybe you have an aspiring pastry chef at home and want to make sure that they have everything they need? Then this guide is great for you too! With this guide, you’ll know whether your aspiring chef has the tools that they need to confidently go for it on their first try.

Guys, I am so excited to share this ebook with you, and I hope you find it useful as you step into your new life as a home baker!

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Three Tips for Amazing Home Cooks Who Want to Be Amazing Bakers!

Before I started my baking journey in 2014, I said this all the time about baking:

“I can cook but I can’t bake. It’s too hard.”

Does this describe you? Well, today I have three tips to help you overcome this belief and become an amazing baker, even if you’ve never tried to make a cupcake in your life.

I was lying to myself.

If you want to bake, you can bake. Today I’ll help you get to the root of that frustration and help you figure out how to get on the good foot with this beautiful science.

In this Post:

The Fundamental Truth: Cooking and Baking are the Same, but Different

Cooking, Friend, is the process of taking raw ingredients and transforming them into a completed dish. This could include those black eyed peas that you had for Sunday dinner, or those blueberry muffins that you made yesterday.

Yes, Friend. Baking is a form of cooking. It’s true! Cooking is anything that involves transforming raw ingredients. Baking, as we commonly know it, is transforming raw ingredients into pastries, cakes, or bread.

In fact, according to this very scientific definition from The Spruce Eats, baking is “fully cooking food in an oven.” This could easily refer to any number of chicken or beef dishes. However, as the same article points out, when most us refer to “baking”, we are referring to pastries and breads, not those yummy Thursday night crispy chicken thighs.

That is where the difference comes. Baking (by its common definition) requires a very scientific approach in order to reach a desired result, and the margin for error is narrow. With cooking, there is much more flexibility, as there are usually many opportunities to taste and adjust something before serving, and it’s a much more hands-on technique (with stirring, seasoning as you go, etc.).

Tip #1: Start with the understanding that while baking is a form of cooking, it follows its own set of rules.

Cooks are Artists: Baking Activates a Cook’s Scientific Mind

The biggest obstacle that I had to overcome in the early days was my belief that cooking and baking followed the same rules.

The way I laugh when I think about that now…

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but cooking and baking do not follow the same rules. And this is the fundamental truth that frustrates good cooks.

They don’t follow the same rules. At all!

If you’re used to pinching and dashing over a pot of something, tasting to adjust, then pinching and dashing again, that action becomes a part of you. Your identity as a home chef depends on your ability to season, taste, and season some more. It’s an instinct. An art form. You know your palette. You know what you’re trying to achieve. And you know that you can take baby steps to get there. Even after a dish is complete, there’s an opportunity to alter the flavor with some salt and pepper or a splash of lime juice.

Cooking allows flexibility on the issue of substitutions as well. Don’t have cilantro? You can get by with parsley. No dry white wine in the house? White wine vinegar could work just as well.

Photo by Calum Lewis on Unsplash

Baking is NOT THAT; successful baking relies on scientific principles as much as artistic ones. To make baked goods that taste good, bakers understand that their recipes have to rely on certain fundamental principles of chemistry and physics. For example, certain ingredients, when combined with heat, cause the Maillard reaction (browning) on the top of your cakes, cookies and breads. Leavening, combined with liquid, creates carbon dioxide and alcohol which is responsible for rise when trapped by a gluten structure. Oh, and the strength of the gluten structure depends on the protein content that’s often found in your flour and eggs.

Bakers know these rules before they take out a single bowl or spatula. Knowing these rules means that bakers have a very good idea of what to expect when they open their ovens at the end of a bake. They know exactly what to expect if they reduce the sugar by 1/2 cup or add an extra egg.

While you don’t need a chemistry degree to be a good baker, it’s important to understand that there’s no “winging it” without some basic scientific knowledge about how it all works. There are lots of opportunities for things to go wrong if we insist upon being creative without learning the basics. Without a strong understanding about ingredient properties and baking techniques, it’s simply not possible to create consistent baking recipes that will work.

These scientific requirements are so frustrating for good cooks because they can feel constricting and lacking in imagination. This is especially true for those imaginative cooks who love to tweak their dishes on the fly. If this is you, Dear Reader, take heart. Once you read through the next section, you’ll know that you can get to that imaginative place again with baking, if you just give it a little bit of time and approach it with a beginner’s mind.

Tip #2: Understand that baking uses a different, science-based skillset and that that skillset is different than general cooking.

The Key to Becoming a Great Baker: Adopt a Beginner’s Mind

Before the mediocre baking attempt in 2014 that ultimately led to the blog you’re reading today, I had been a failed baker for my entire life.

In other words, before 2014, I couldn’t bake a potato to save my life.

The proud look on my daughter’s face as she took those mediocre sugar cookies to her class jump-started the nerd in me, so I decided to take a deep breath and start from the beginning with baking. Zen Buddhists call this a “beginner’s mind”; it involves humbling oneself and actively accepting where you are. Because you can learn how to do anything when your mind is truly open.

black and white stones on brown wooden table
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

For me, this meant that I had embrace the fact that I didn’t know the first thing about baking, even though I’d been a proficient home cook since the 1980s. Not accept it begrudgingly. But embrace every part of the journey.

Approaching baking with a beginner’s mind meant that I didn’t attach any preconceived notions about what I should know or feel any shame about not knowing. It simply meant that I made myself available to learn how to bake, without judgment or expectation. It also meant that when questions arose about why and how to bake, I was able to target my study organically and learn the answers over time.

Don’t get me wrong, proficiency and creativity came with practice and study. But by adopting a beginner’s mind, I was able to take my ego out of the equation so that I could truly learn something. And that lesson, dear friend, has been invaluable. This blog is a compilation of what I have learned organically (and concepts that I continue to learn organically), wrapped up in one place for you.

Tip #3: A beginner’s mind is key to becoming a baker. This is especially true if you’re already a great cook.

Conclusion

I still approach baking with a beginner’s mind. There’s always so much to learn in this space and being curious has helped me grow from a non-baker, to a new baker, to a good baker, to a consistent and proficient baker, to someone who is confident enough in my baking ability to create my own recipes and sell baked goods to the people in my community through my custom bakery. There’s literally no downside to admitting that you’re always a beginner on some level.

If you think about it, great cooks, we all had a beginner’s mind at some point. We weren’t born with a knowledge of flavor profiles or salt and acid levels. We learned that over time; some from parents, others from grandparents, and others still from culinary schools or chefs. Baking is its own discipline that deserves the same respect. If you give it that respect, the dividends will be more than you could ever imagine.

Home chefs, the best advice I can offer about baking is to adopt the beginner’s mind. The science and technique will come with time. Be kind to yourself during the learning process and embrace where you are. And for goodness sake, laugh at yourself sometimes! There are mistakes to be made during the learning process and that is okay. Sometimes those mistakes are delicious.

Until next time!


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The Role of Eggs in Your Baked Goods!

Today, in our Ingredient Series, we’re taking on eggs! We’ve already talked about flour, sugar, butter, yeast, baking powder, and baking soda, so it’s time that the humble egg has its day.

Not to be dramatic (😉), but eggs are transformative. When combined with flour, they add to the structure and texture of cakes, cookies, and breads. Egg wash is the secret ingredient for beautifully caramelized pie crusts and challah; it can even be used as a kind of edible glue for slivered almonds or sesame seeds.

Eggs can also be reduced to their parts: fatty egg yolks are a natural emulsifier that give a rich, luscious and creamy texture to lemon curds, while egg whites can morph into a natural leavening agent when whipped to stiff peaks.

Let’s get started, shall we?

In this Post:

The Composition of Eggs

Eggs are composed of two seemingly inconsistent parts: the egg yolk and the egg white.

The egg white is made of a tangled network of protein. Protein is the literal building block for baked goods, in that it creates the physical structure for leavening (e.g., baking powder, baking soda, or yeast) to do its work. The combination of structure and leavening is what gives baked goods their rise. The more eggs that are added, the stronger the physical protein bonds will be.

While the yolk also contains some protein, it’s more famous for its fattiness. Egg yolks give a smooth, velvety texture to whatever they’re added to, whether it’s a cake batter or my favorite luscious lemon curd from Bakes by Brown Sugar. The egg yolk is also known for adding beautiful color, both on the interior and exterior of your baked goods.

The Default Egg for Baking (With a Cheat Code!)

When I was first learning to bake, I truly believed that my baking endeavor had to come to a full stop if I didn’t have large chicken eggs. Like, I would give up and save the baking for another day if I only had medium or extra-large eggs in the house.

You see, large chicken eggs are the gold standard for baking recipes. They are so commonly used for baking that many recipe authors don’t specify the size and type of eggs to be used in a recipe. They simply say: two eggs.

Translation: two large chicken eggs, or ~114 grams of eggs.

Friend, if you don’t have large chicken eggs in your home, please don’t fret. If you have chicken eggs and a food scale, you’ll be perfectly fine.

To measure eggs using a food scale, simply crack a little more than you need, scramble gently, and remove the excess once it’s just starting to combine. You don’t want perfectly scrambled eggs here. You want slightly combined; the objective is to try and maintain the white/yolk ratio in your batter or dough.

Of course I would crack a double-yolked egg for this demo. The objective is to slightly combine the eggs for this technique, and not to completely combine them.

For example, if your recipe calls for two large eggs (~114 grams) and you only have medium eggs, crack three medium eggs (about 150 grams) and scramble gently. Remove the excess grams of egg and you’re good to go!

The Impact of Eggs on Structure

In my post about flour, I talked about how flour creates the structure for cakes, cookies, muffins, and all manner of baked goods. The protein percentage of your flour impacts the strength of that structure (higher protein content=stronger structure=more chew).

Both egg whites and yolks contain protein. When eggs and flour are combined in a recipe, the egg adds an additional protein layer to the flour and creates a stronger gluten network that traps more gases from your leavening and gives your baked goods even more lift!

Egg whites can play dual roles in the texture your baked goods! Have you ever tried whipping egg whites to stiff peaks? The reason that that happens is because the whipping action actually separates the proteins from one another, reducing the strength of the protein network in the egg white and transforming it into pockets of air that can be used for leavening. That’s why, when egg whites are overbeaten, they crumple and become useless. It’s because the proteins have separated from one one another and expanded until they’ve popped.

Eggs can also thicken desserts like custards. It’s amazing really. When heated, the proteins in the egg whites coagulate (bind) into a gel-like structure to help create a cohesive custard instead of a milky mess when heated. That velvety mouth feel comes from the fatty yolks.

I personally love the glazed texture that an amazing egg wash gives to baked goods. Like this!

That sheen? That’s from scrambling a whole egg and a teaspoon of water and brushing it across the entire challah before baking. The egg promotes both the beautiful browning and a glazed texture to the finished product.

The Impact of Eggs on Color

Both parts of the egg contribute to color in your baked goods. The egg white helps cakes (in particular angel food cake and white cake) retain their characteristic white color. Egg whites are also used in Swiss and Italian meringue buttercream recipes and they help those buttercreams retain their beautiful, glossy white color.

The yolk, on the other hand, does double duty. The fatty yolk helps contribute to the Maillard reaction (that’s just a fancy word for browning) on the top of your baked goods, and also adds to the beautiful, slightly yellow color that we’ve come to see in sliced yellow cake and pound cake, and also in all manner of cookies. Additionally, the yolks add color and fatty decadence to French buttercream recipes.

I clearly need to work on a buttercream tutorial. ::adds to list::

Conclusion

When it comes to baking, every ingredient plays an important role. Understanding the properties of each ingredient and the role that they play in your baked goods will help you become a better baker.

The humble egg doesn’t demand as much attention as its counterparts flour, sugar and butter, but it’s just as important! I hope you enjoyed reading about one of my favorite ingredients, and that this ingredient series is helping to deepen your knowledge about baking so that you too can understand what you’re baking and why it works.

Until next time!


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