Creaming, a basic mixing method, incorporates sugar with a fat, such as shortening or butter. The process introduces air bubbles so the mixture is light and fluffy. Although creaming shortening and sugar together is a simple technique, it is a critical step for making delectable, light-textured cookies and cakes. Creaming shortening and sugar with an electric mixer takes only a few minutes, but using a bowl and wooden spoon is almost as easy.
Measure the shortening into a mixing bowl. The shortening should be at room temperature -- soft but still slightly firm. If the fat is too soft, the mixture won't mix properly.
Beat the shortening on low speed until it softens -- about 1 minute, scraping the beaters and the inside of the bowl with a spatula at least once. If you're creaming the mixture by hand, use a wooden spoon to beat the shortening slowly.
Add the sugar a few tablespoons at a time while the mixer continues to run on low speed. Wait for the sugar to be evenly distributed before you add more. If you're beating it manually, pour the sugar into the shortening a few tablespoons at a time and then blend the mixture with the wooden spoon. Repeat until you've added all the sugar.
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Turn the mixer to medium speed and beat the shortening and sugar until the consistency is light and creamy -- about 1 to 2 minutes. If you're creaming the ingredients by hand, start beating slowly with a wooden spoon, then gradually increase speed until the mixture is consistently light and fluffy.
Continue adding the other ingredients, as directed.
A light and fluffy texture means the volume increases and the mixture is paler than when you started. The mixture should overall be creamy and sticky.
M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.