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Kitchen Queries

Welcome to Kitchen Queries, where the nigella.com team will answer your cooking or food related questions.  We’d love you to submit some of your recipe problems, dilemmas or queries for us to get our teeth into!

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  • Mixing Method For Cakes

    Hi there, I'm new to baking. I'm using a stand/hand mixer to beat the ingredients. Can I know how long should I need beat the ingredients, and whether the beating (how long?) really influences the result of cakes and cupcakes? I have been mixing the ingredients and beating for more than 15 mins yet the cakes and cupcakes that I have made have a big chunk in the middle of the cooked cupcakes and cakes are even worse! Do you have any advice on the mixing method? Thanks!

    From the nigella team:

    When mixing cakes without melted ingredients there are two methods - the creaming method and the all-in-one method. We are not sure which method you are using for your cakes but we suspect that you are over mixing the ingredients and this is causing the cakes and cupcakes to be dense and heavy in the centre. If you are using an all-in-one method then you should only mix long enough for the ingredients to be completely combined. With a hand-held or stand mixer this should not take more than 2 to 3 minutes.

    If you are creaming the butter and sugar first then the timing can vary slightly and it is best to look for changes in the appearane of the ingredients.  When the butter and sugar are fully creamed they will be lighter in colour (usually a pale ivory colour), will look fluffy and will have increased in volume slightly. this should only take around 3 minutes with an electric mixer. If you cream the mixture for too long the butter will start to melt and this will start to collapse the air bubbles in the mixture, making the cakes heavy and possibly a little greasy. Also make sure that your butter is not too warm before you start. If you press your finger into the butter then it should leave an indentation but the butter should not be so soft that it will squish or collapse when you press it. 

    You should beat in the eggs a little (about half an egg) at a time, adding some flour with the eggs to stop the mixture from splitting. Finally add the flour and either fold this in by hand or mix on very low speed until the flour had just been incorporated.

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