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Creaming (food)

File:Creaming butter - step 3.JPG
Butter being creamed by electric beaters
This article is about cooking. For use of the word in laboratory chemistry, see Creaming (chemistry).

Creaming is used to refer to several different culinary processes.

In baking

Creaming, in baking, is the technique of blending ingredients — usually granulated sugar — together with a solid fat like shortening or butter. The technique is most often used in making buttercream, cake batter or cookie dough. The dry ingredients are mixed or beaten with the fat until it becomes light and fluffy and increased in volume, due to the incorporation of tiny air bubbles. These air bubbles, locked into the semi-solid fat, remain in the final batter and expand as the item is baked, serving as a form of leavening agent.

Butter is the traditional fat for creaming, but vegetable shortening is a more effective leavener for a number of reasons. The low melting point of butter means it aerates best at temperatures cooler than most kitchens (18 °C/65 °F), while shortening works best at higher temperatures. Because fat of butter has coarser crystalline structure, it allows larger air bubbles to form than shortening; large bubbles can rise in and escape from thin batters. Also, most shortening is made with preformed nitrogen bubbles and bubble-stabilizing emulsifiers, both of which enhance its leavening ability.

Some pastry fillings, for example in cream pies, are also referred to as "creams". These are more properly called "blancmanges", or, if prepared with eggs as well as milk, are actually custards.

In cooking (creamed)

Creamed food, in cooking, sometimes denotes food that is prepared by slow simmering or poaching in milk or cream. Some typical creamed dishes include creamed corn and creamed chipped beef on toast. A similar technique used for soups involves adding milk or cream to the soup, either as part of the base stock, or as a finish. Some typical "cream of" soups are cream of tomato soup and cream of mushroom soup.

Some commercial preparations of "creamed" food substitute water and a starch (often corn starch) for all or some of the milk. This produces a "creamy" texture with no actual cream or milk used. Pureeing the ingredients of a soup or stew can also produce a creamy texture, but these dishes are more properly called "puree"s.

Creamed should not be confused with the baking technique, in which sugar and fat are combined.

In milk production

Creaming in milk production is the process by which cream rises to the top of un-homogenized milk. In this sense, the word is similar to the term "creaming" as it is used in chemistry.