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The Reverse Creaming Method for Cakes

Introducing Reverse Creaming also know as Two Stage Creaming.

This is the first in a series of 7 “Cake Batter” classes. Over the course of the series we’ll test how changes to cake batter mixing technique and ingredients can alter a cake’s taste and texture.

Two forks each with a bite of cake at the end against a gray background

We’ll work with the original pound cake as our test recipe for the “Cake Batter” classes. Pound cake is a great tool for our purposes precisely because it’s a simple recipe with just 4 ingredients.

Pound cake got it’s name based on the original formula of 1 pound each of butter, sugar, eggs and flour. It’s called “quatre-quarts” (four-fourths) by the French.

For our science of cake batter series we’ll look at the role each ingredient plays in the batter. But first we’ll look at two cake batter mixing methods.

Traditional Creaming vs. Reverse Creaming

When I was in culinary school, our first lesson in the “cakes” section was the basic pound cake. Not only did we have to use the original “quatre quarts” recipe, we were required to cream the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon, by hand.

At the time it seemed a little ridiculous. We knew we’d never actually mix a pound cake by hand, especially in a pro kitchen.

But the exercise did reinforce how important technique is, not only for pound cake but for all baking.

What is the creaming method?

The traditional creaming method starts by beating together the butter and sugar. The sharp edges of the sugar crystals cut through the butter to create lots of little air bubbles. The eggs are added one at a time and the flour is added last.

As soon as the flour is added gluten, the protein in the flour that gives baked goods their structure, will start to form. As the cake bakes the air bubbles trapped in the butter will expand in the heat of the oven producing, in theory, a light and airy cake.

What is Reverse Creaming?

Reverse creaming, aka two-stage creaming, is an alternate technique used by many bakers (including me). Reverse creaming starts by beating together the flour, sugar and butter.

Gluten won’t start to form until the flour comes in contact with water (in the egg whites). Coating the flour molecules with butterfat before the eggs are added creates a barrier which slows the formation of gluten. Reverse creaming should, in theory, make a cake with a more tender and velvety texture.

Cake test – creaming versus reverse creaming

One way to compare mixing techniques is to run side-by-side tests. For each test I mixed one batch using the traditional creaming method and one batch using the reverse creaming method.

Each batch of cake contained exactly 8 ounces each of cake flour, granulated sugar, unsalted butter and eggs. The butter and eggs were at ideal room temperature, between 65-70°F.

Step by step photos showing how to monitor to the temperature of ingredients for cake batter.
  • All ingredients were at ideal room temperature, about 65°-70°F.
  • All cakes were baked in identical 9”x 5” loaf pans at 325°F in a convection oven.
Two unbaked pound cakes in the pans, side by side. One is marked traditional and the other is marked reverse
  • The cake batters look similar going into the oven.
Two pound cakes on a cooling rack with cake pans in the background.
  • The crusts on the cakes had slightly different texture.

Creaming vs. Reverse Creaming test results

Two pound cakes side by side on a cooling rack with a gray background
  • At first glance, the cakes made with the different mixing methods looked very similar, but once I cut and tasted the cakes the differences became apparent.
  • The cake made with the traditional creaming method had a very tight crumb and contained a few pockets of air. The cake was a little chewy with a slightly bouncy texture. I pinched a piece of the cake between my fingers and it held together a moment before breaking up.
  • The cake made with the reverse method also had a tight crumb, but it was very consistent with no air pockets. The texture was softer and more tender. When I pinched a piece of that cake between my fingers it broke apart more easily.

Which is better, creaming or reverse creaming?

In tests using the exact same ingredients, a cake made with the reverse creaming method was softer and more tender. Which is why reverse creaming is my preferred mixing method.

Other cake batter classes:

Next up: Cake Batter Class #2 will explore how adding salt, flavorings and leavening can improve on the basic pound cake recipe.

When we’re done experimenting with all the ingredients for this “cake batter” course, we’ll use all we’ve learned to create Pound Cake Perfection.

Julie Caldwell

Monday 31st of July 2023

If I'm reverse creaming a recipe where the eggs are separated, can I put the yolks in the original mixture since the egg whites contain the water? Also, when do I add the leavening agents (baking soda, powder, etc)?

Eileen Gray

Tuesday 1st of August 2023

I assume if the eggs are separated you will be whipping the whites? I add the yolks when the eggs would be added and fold in the whites at the end. Leavening agents go in the flour at the beginning. This recipe for vanilla cake outlines the reverse creaming process with separated eggs.


Tuesday 25th of July 2023

Hi! I found your page looking for a reason why my cake was dense when I used the reverse creaming method. The recipe used cake flour, room temperature unsalted butter and milk, and the rest of the standard ingredients; and the correct steps. Baked two 6 x 2 layers at 350 degrees. What do you think I did wrong? Any suggestions or tips? Thank you

Eileen Gray

Wednesday 26th of July 2023

I couldn't guess without seeing the recipe. Cake recipes are all about balancing the ingredients that provide structure and the ingredients that tenderize the cake. Read this blog post about balancing cake recipes for the details.


Tuesday 15th of November 2022

Hi Eileen,

May i know cream cheese consider wet ingredient mix together with the egg and milk wet ingredient? thanks

Eileen Gray

Tuesday 15th of November 2022

Hi Gabby, I'm not sure I understand your question. Are you asking when cream cheese would be added if doing reverse creaming? I would treat the cream cheese like butter and add it to the dry ingredients. Just be careful if you are also using butter that the butter and cream cheese have similar texture before adding them. If the butter is colder and firmer than the cream cheese you could end up with lumps. So you might want to add the butter first and then the cream cheese.


Sunday 16th of October 2022

Which types of cakes would you use reverse creaming technique? Thanks

Eileen Gray

Monday 17th of October 2022

Any recipe that uses the "creaming" method can be done with reserve creaming.


Sunday 6th of February 2022

for replacing 1 cup of cake flour , you had suggested to replace with 3/4 cup of APF and 2TBSP of corn flour. But this volume will not make 1 cup of equivalent cake flour. Still 2 Tbsp is short. How to compensate for this shortage . pl let us know