How To Cream Butter and Sugar
So many yummy baking recipes tell you to start with creaming the butter and sugar together. But, they never tell you how to cream butter and sugar (hereafter called b. s.). It is somewhat of a fine art. In my recent recipe, banana pecan bread, I beagn by creaming ths b. s.
I usually cream butter and sugar by hand using a pastry blender. (I tend to be old-fashioned in the kitchen.) But, you can use a stand mixer if you don't want to burn the calories that you will be eating later on in those delicious baked goods.
Knowing how soft to make your butter really depends on what you are baking. In fact, that is a whole 'nuther post. I like to start with a heavy crockery bowl. The sturdy weight is helpful with this energetic task. I soften the butter by leaving it out at room temperature for a while or microwave it on low for short periods of time. If you use the microwave method, do it in 10 second increments. In any case, if your butter partially melts, it's not softened. It's liquid! Yikes! So be REALLY, REALLY careful when using a microwave.
Place the softened butter into the bowl with the sugar. Take a pastry blender and cut the butter into the sugar. This may take a while. You may need to take a knife or straight edge and scrape the mixture off the pastry blender from time to time. The end product should be fluffy.