Creaming, beating and folding: What’s the difference?

Who knew there were so many ways to mix together basic ingredients?!

Okay, bakers know. We wouldn’t get very far if we didn’t! Choosing the right mixing method depends on your recipe, but understanding the key differences between creaming, beating and folding can mean the difference between a light, airy delicious sponge and a stodgy, dense cake. I know which one I prefer. 

These techniques might look the same, but they will do very different things to your batter. 

Creaming

The creaming method refers to mixing solid fats and sugar together; the fat being butter in most cases. It’s a common first step in cake and cookie recipes – an important step that incorporates air into your mixture, which helps your baked goods rise and gives them a lovely light texture. 

Recipes will typically tell you to “cream together butter and sugar” or “beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy”. 

Creaming starts with softened butter. Either allow it to warm up to room temperature for a couple of hours, or pop it into the microwave for a few seconds at a time. You can cream butter and sugar together using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer, the beaters on a hand-held mixer, or by using a large wooden spo

Beating

Beating your ingredients means mixing them vigorously to combine and incorporate air, much like the creaming method. 

Some recipes will call for beaten eggs, or will ask you to beat wet and dry ingredients together. For example, this is the process for mixing egg whites and sugar together when making meringue. 

You can beat ingredients with a fork, whisk, stand mixer, hand-held mixer or a food processor. 

Folding

Folding is the term used to describe combining ingredients gently, without agitating the mixture. It’s a technique most commonly used when combining ingredients that have already been whipped or beaten, to avoid deflating their delicate texture. 

Folding is usually done with a whisk or spatula, such as folding meringue into ground almonds to make macarons, or folding fruit into a cake. 

Do you have any burning baking questions? Let me know in the comments!

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