You’re Probably Making This Baking Mistake and Don’t Even Realize It

Baker and cookbook author Samantha Seneviratne dropped some valuable knowledge during a class on the Food Network Kitchen app recently, and it’s changed the way we’ll bake from now on.

November 20, 2019

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How many times have you started a batch of cookies and followed the directions to "cream the butter and sugar"? A ton, obviously. It’s often the first step when baking and it’s easy enough to pull off: butter + sugar + mix. But while making Peppermint Chocolate Cookies in a class on the brand-new Food Network Kitchen app, baker and cookbook author Samantha Seneviratne explained that the way in which this is done is key. A few things need to be spot-on in order for this process to work.

First up: The temp of the butter matters. "It’s really important that your butter is at room temperature," Samantha said, "because this is where the sugar basically cuts air bubbles into the butter." Imagine what would happen if you used chilled butter — or, worse, a stick straight from the freezer! — and attempted to mix in sugar. It just wouldn’t happen, Samantha said. "It basically won’t incorporate and you won’t get those beautiful air bubbles that you need."

Also: "Creaming" takes time, and it can’t be rushed. I’m sure we’re not alone in admitting that there have been times when we’ve been in a hurry and merely whisked the butter and sugar for a quick second and called it done. It may look fully incorporated after a few turns, but according to Samantha, it actually takes a good two minutes to fully come together. And again, this creaming process is crucial because it ultimately helps "create lift in your final cookie," she explained. (No one wants a flat, dense cookie, amiright?!) To further this process, Samantha recommended stopping the mixer and scraping down the sides of the bowl. This ensures the butter and sugar will become one, just in case the mixer lets you down.

You’ll know you’ve successfully creamed the butter and sugar together — and thus set yourself up for cookie success — when the mixture turns a pale-yellow color, Samantha said. It’ll be almost white. Plus, make sure it’s light and fluffy, not hard and chunky. Depending on how warm or cold your butter is, she added, this process may take more or less time.

Samantha’s full class on Peppermint Chocolate Cookies is available now on the Food Network Kitchen app. Check it out to get her recipe for these easy sweet treats, which she said taste “like a chocolate candy cane.” Plus, she’s got a ton more baking how-tos and holiday-worthy recipes just waiting for you.

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