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The High-Ratio Mixing Method, also known as the Two Step or Quick-Mix Method, is an alternate mixing technique for butter cakes, whether dense or light. It is used anytime you have high ratio cake, where the weight of the sugar in the batter is equal to or greater than the weight of the flour. This involves mixing all the dry ingredients first, then beating in cold, but softened butter. Then, the eggs and liquid ingredients, such as milk, are slowly added. Mixing this way guarantees a smooth batter that doesn't separate, thus making for a light and delicate baked cake.
SARAH SAYS: I invented the first butter cake recipe using all-purpose flour using the Two-Step Mixing Method in 2008, with my Year Round Spice Cake Recipe.
Mixing the butter first directly with the flour and dry ingredients, coats the gluten-forming proteins in the wheat flour with fat, so when the wet ingredients, such as eggs and milk are added next, and the ingredients are mixed, very little gluten is formed. Plus, cake flour is low in gluten forming proteins, and it being bleached, toughens the protein molecules, enabling it to carry more than its weight in sugar and fat; cakes with bleached cake flour tend to be higher in sugar and fat, both tenderizers, than those without - that's why these cakes literally melt in your mouth!
SARAH SAYS: I recently discovered through research, that in fact, the Pillsbury Company invented this method in 1945, which they called the Quick-Mix Method, as a way for home baker's to bake light and airy cakes. Crisco was used in their recipes at the time, and butter could be easily substituted, with the same result.
1. Remove the butter sticks from the refrigerator, and cut into tablespoon size pieces. Set aside, and let soften slightly, but must remain cool.
2. In a one or two-cup measuring cup or a bowl with a pouring spout, add the milk, eggs and vanilla. Beat together with a fork. Set aside.
SARAH SAYS: I measure the milk in a one-cup liquid measuring cup and to it, I add the eggs and vanilla extract.
3. Sift the dry ingredients, such as the measured flour, baking powder and/or baking soda and salt into the mixing bowl of a stand mixer.
4. Clamp on the mixing bowl and fit a paddle attachment to the mixer.
Add the sugar.
Mix on low, about 10 to 15 seconds to combine the ingredients. Make sure you get all of the ingredients mixed in from the bottom of the bowl.
5. With the mixer on low speed, add the butter 1 tablespoon or piece at a time at a time into the flour mixture. Keep adding each butter-piece about 10 seconds apart, until all has been incorporated.
The butter should be evenly distributed throughout.
STOP mixing when the flour mixture begins to clump together and look moistened slightly. You should not see any butter pieces in the mixture.
6. With the mixer speed on low, add 1/2 of the egg/milk mixture slowly at the side of the bowl.
Mix until incorporated, taking about 5-10 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides.
7. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about a minute.
When done, stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
8. With the mixer on low speed, add the remaining egg mixture in a slow steady stream at the side of the bowl.
9. Beat at medium speed until thoroughly mixed and light and fluffy, about 1 minute. The batter will look fluffy and slightly curdled, it's ok.
Weigh the batter before portioning it equally into the prepared baking pans.