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.

76 Comments

  1. s]Wow, this is AWESOME INFORMATION, thank you.

    Is it possible to purchase all these in a NOTE/BOOK FORM?

    Would like to ADD THIS TO MY LIBRARY.

    Irene Rodriguez

  2. 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)?

    1. 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.

  3. 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

    1. 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.

  4. 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

  5. Great article! Thank you for pictures, work, and writing. Saw another Cooking Science blog say there were not much differences, which was truly upsetting, haha. Perhaps, he/she beated the mixtures too long in a stand mixer.

  6. Hi. I have used both methods and prefer reverse creaming. My question is – which one is better for a layer cake in which I have to slice cake into 2 layers?

  7. Very good article I have been searching for something like this for a long time as the reverse method on the internet gets confusing with so many different ingredients and measurements. I also use sour cream which make the cake softer.
    Orignal I used the creaming method but want to establish the best.
    Also many recipes use all purpose flour and then add salt, baking powder and soda does this make a difference from SR flour?

    1. Self rising flour already has salt and baking powder added. All purpose or cake flour does not have salt or leavening in it so it’s added separately.

      1. I have honestly never used self rising flour, but many people do so I guess it must give good results. Just leave out the salt and leavening from the original recipe if you use SR flour.

    1. Yes, for each cup of cake flour you can use 3/4 cup of all purpose flour plus 2 tablespoon of corn starch.

      1. The volume doesn’t need to be the same. The all purpose flour will absorb more moisture from the batter than cake flour does. It’s a good substitution. I’ve used it myself in a pinch.

    2. @PAWAN,

      I was trying to make eggless version and used oil instead of butter.
      I normally use 1/4 up of oil for one cup of cake flour.
      with this replacement of APF+Corn Flour, do we need to reduce the qty of oil also. and accordingly other ingredients.

  8. Would this method also work for a chocolate cake where there is traditionally less creaming but only egg/dairy then flour/dry?

    1. I’m not sure I understand your question. The reverse creaming technique can be used for any recipe that normally begins with creaming the butter and sugar and then adding the flour (and dairy if there is any). The basic premise of this technique is that the flour is coated with fat to mitigate gluten formation before the liquid is added.

    1. Which book are you looking for? My self published pound cake book and my book Easy Baking From Scratch are both available on Amazon.

  9. I did a similar test when I was working with a high school student as her mentor. The thing that really surprised me was that not only were the batters of difrerent texture, they also had a slightly different color and tasted completely different (more than what could be accounted for from difference in texture).

    We tested with a “standard” yellow cake, using The Creaming Method for one and Two Stage for the other. Did you taste the batters and notice the same thing with a simpler, 4-ingredient cake? I’m still intrigued by the huge difference. I expected the two-stage cake to have a more velvety crumb, but I didn’t expect the two cakes to taste so different. Fascinating!

    1. Yes, I love doing side by side tests. The results are often surprising. If found in the original tests that the regular creamed cake had a more “greasy” taste than the reverse creamed cake.

  10. Hi totally in love with all your posts. I have one small question. Why is that the cake made with creaming method has air pockets and not in the reverse method ?
    Thank you

    1. Are you referring to how the cakes look in the photos? Regular creaming method does incorporate more air into the batter, but I find the reverse creaming creates a more consistent and smaller crumb, which I prefer for a pound cake.

  11. Hi Eileen!
    I have been searching for the perfect cake recipe and decided to do some research and studies about it. It was when I found your blog.
    I never heard of reverse creaming before and I am very curious about it, and will give it a try one day. But I was thinking, does the reverse creaming will work in any cake recipe? When is the case to use reverse creaming to improve the outcome of a cake?
    There’s still so much to tell and also, but I will leave to it for now. Thank you!

    1. I can’t say 100% since I haven’t tried every recipe. But, in my opinion, the reverse creaming method could work for any recipe that is written for the “creaming” method.

      1. Thank you Eileen!
        It has been frustrating to bake. I moved out my country and the recipes that I used there and it worked perfectly, are not working here. I know everything can influence – type of flour, butter, oven, pan etc. I have been trying to figure out what’s wrong and how to change, but unfortunately I can’t test all the time – where all the cakes will go?
        The last one I tried I was super happy with the batter – it looked the same way as back home, and it came out of the oven beautifully – fluffy and light to the touch, risen even. But it got dense once it cooled down. Didn’t try the reverse creaming yet, but as soon as I do, I will let you know. Thank you!

  12. Hi Eileen,
    I stumbled upon your website and am so glad that I did. I love your recipe and your have very clearly explained the science behind baking. I have tried several recipes for a soft and moist cake but never managed to get the texture what i was looking for. Yesterday i made your Vanilla Butter cake with the reverse creaming with whipped egg whites method. OMG!!!
    I can’t thank you enough for this method. The cake turned out so soft. I have never had any of my cakes turn out so soft. I am definitely using this method for all the other cakes,
    But I am stuck for people who cannot eat eggs. I have a lot of people around me who do not have eggs and if i need the same texture for the cake, what can i replace the eggs with?
    Will i still get the same results???
    Would appreciate your reply on this.
    Thank you so much.

    1. Hi Jeny, Eggs are a tough one with baking. I’ve used Bob’s Red Mill egg replacer with good results when making cookies. I haven’t tried it with this recipe, but I think it’s worth a shot. You won’t be able to make whipped whites with the egg replacer.

      1. Hi Eileen,

        Thank you so much for your reply. But here in India where I stay i haven’t seen an egg replacer anywhere in the market. Hence am in a dilemma. any other suggestions for replacing eggs?
        Sorry for asking too many questions. Have just discovered my love for baking and want to be able to make whatever people around me demand.

        Thanks again.

        1. Hi Jeny, sorry I don’t have a good answer for you. I know some people use the water from canned chickpeas (aquafaba) to replace egg whites. You can experiment with that. Here’s a website with some ideas for replacing eggs.

          1. Thank you so Much Eileen. I will check out the website.
            Meanwhile i made your white cake. It turned out awesome. But my only issie is the cakes settle quite a bit after they come out. I did what you mentioned about lining just the bottom of the pan and no flour on the sides. But the cake settled down. Any solution on that?

  13. Please forgive the length of this question. :).

    I have a bundt cake recipe that I make and love. The first time I made it, I followed the instructions exactly, which are basically dump sugar, butter and all wet ingredients together – mix – then add all dry ingredients and mix again. The second time I made the recipe, I forgot that it called for that and I basically used the regular creaming method that recipes typically use. That time, my bundt cake fell. When I remade the cake following the dump and mix method, it was once again perfect. This is bending my mind into a pretzel. I am an avid baker for many years, but only just now learning about the science behind baking.

    Do you have any idea why this would have happened?

    Also, when a cake calls for the the regular creaming method, can you always use the reverse creaming method if you prefer (as i do), or are the circumstances where you should not use it?

    I love your blog and appreciate the baking science series very much!
    Thank you! ‘

    1. First, I’d like to invite you to join my private Facebook Group called Baking Sense Recipe Workshop . Anyone can join if they ask. I set up that group specifically to answer questions like this. The group is made up of bakers who like to help other bakers. It is a little hard to answer this question specifically without seeing the recipe. A first guess might be that by creaming the butter and sugar you introduced more air into the batter than normal and the batter couldn’t hold the air and the cake fell. Generally, any cake that can be successfully made using the creaming method can be made with the reverse creaming method.

  14. Hello! I just discovered reverse creaming and I love it! I’ve used it for my white cake recipe religiously. But my question is regarding eggs. I’ve typically whipped egg whites (for the white cake recipe) before adding to the bowl. Do you whip your eggs (in any recipe)? Or do you add them in directly? Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Dena, I whip the egg whites for my Vanilla Butter Cake Recipe. The cake is a little lighter than a pound cake. If you visit the Eggs in Cake Batter post you can read how whipping the whites not only lightens but also tenderizes the cake. If you’re interested in questions like these I definitely recommend reading through the entire Cake Batter series. I also have a private Facebook Group (anyone can join if you ask) that’s all about bakers talking about recipes and helping each other fix recipe issues.

  15. I came across your post and have enjoyed reading. I just ordered your book. I have a question. Why is it that anytime I use the reverse creaming method, my cakes shrink so much? I, at times, make them with success, and then other times (more frequently), they do not come out (the major shrinking). I use a scale to weigh ingredients. I do not over mix. I use room temp ingredients. I have an oven thermometer. My ingredients are fresh, including baking powder, etc. Can you please tell me what the problem may be? I love the texture of cakes with the reverse creaming method, however, I like a taller and fluffier cake, and not one that shrinks almost down to a pancake (so to speak). Thanks!

    1. Hi Steph. Reverse creaming makes a cake very tender, so it may settle as it comes out of the oven. I have had cakes shrink back from the pan a bit as they come out of the oven, or the hump in the middle will settle into a flat top. But I’ve never had a cake deflate down to a pancake. A couple of things – don’t grease the sides of the pan. I either use just a parchment round at the bottom of the pan or just grease and flour the bottom. The sides of the cake will stick a bit and help it rise and it will shrink back a little less when it comes out of the oven. See the photos in my White Cake post. Make sure when you add he butter and “cream” it into the flour that you give it a good 3-4 minutes. The flour and butter mix should lighten in color and texture at this point. To me, the velvety texture of a reverse creamed cake is worth the tradeoff for a small loss in height. But again, I’ve never had a cake deflate to a pancake so I can’t say what is causing that.

    1. Hi Armywife, the “original” pound cake recipe which is simply a pound each of butter, sugar, flour and eggs, has no chemical leavening in the recipe and relies on incorporating air into the batter by creaming. So the original pound cake recipe is a great way to show how the different ways of mixing the batter can make a difference in the outcome of the cake. The recipe here is more about explaining how cake batter works. The original pound cake recipe is not my favorite recipe. If you want a better pound cake recipe, check out this post.

  16. Hi. What size should the mold be if I want to make it with half the ingredients (one quarter of a pound each)?

    1. This recipe was tested in a 9×5″ loaf pan. That pan has an 8 cup capacity. I have a 8.5×4.5″ loaf pan that has a 6 cup capacity. I also have some mini pans, 5.75×3.25″ that have a 2 cup capacity. So, depending on what pans you have available, I would look for a pan that has a 4 cup capacity or something close. You could probably get away with the 6 cup capacity pan and just have a slightly shorter loaf. To figure out the capacity of your pans just measure water, a cup at a time, and pour it into the pan until it’s full. By the way, if you’re looking for my favorite pound cake recipe, try my Pound Cake Perfection. It’s a little lighter and softer than the original recipe.

  17. Hi Eileen,
    Can you use the reverse creaming method with a cream cheese, sour cream pound or am I being overly ambitious? Thanks!

  18. Hi i wanna ask something about the reverse creaming method. Can i somehow cream the butter & sugar first until it’s light & fluffy, and then add in the flour after that? (The egg whites will still be added at the end)
    And can i use the same amount of milk (or buttermilk) instead of the sourcream? Thanks a lot ♡

    1. If you cream the butter and sugar first and then add the flour that is exactly the regular creaming method. This recipe will still work with the regular creaming method, I just prefer the texture with the reverse creaming. But you can do it either way. This recipe is the original pound cake recipe. I have posted my “Perfected Pound Cake” recipe in which I add a little milk (you can also use buttermilk).

    1. I don’t see why not. But, depending on the type of cookie, you may want to get the extra air incorporated with the traditional creaming method. The main reason for using reverse creaming is to have a very tender texture. Since most cookies are very low moisture, developing too much gluten is not usually a big problem.

  19. Just tried your recipe of Perfect Vanilla Pound Cake in your book. Cake is really light, nice texture and very easy to be prepared. We love this pound cake.
    We preheat the oven to 300 oF, convection mode with water in the oven for steam cooking. Our pans are made of brown metal thus we drop the cooking temperature to 300 F and cook for an hour. The cake surface is nice without any splitting crack.
    Thank a lot for sharing to us your knowledge.

  20. Hello Eileen,

    I just discovered your site and I think it’s great. I will try to bake this recipe as soon as possible! However, I have a doubt: when mixing the dry ingredients with the butter and afterwards the eggs, do you use the normal wire whip from the mixer or do you use the flat beater? My mixer comes with both accessories and I was wondering if the resulting cake was different depending on which I use. Thanks!

    1. Hi Marina. I always use the flat beater attachment for cake batter. Sorry if that’s not made clear in my directions.

  21. Hello, I’m trying this recipe with the reverse creaming method and have a question about the modified recipe. The reverse creaming is to protect the flour molecules from mixing too long with the liquid but you added milk to the final recipe and suggest mixing in half of it before the eggs. Could you explain why this is and why it is preferred over just mixing all of the milk into the eggs? Great course by the way, thanks for taking the time.

    1. Hi Sophia, I add just a little of the milk because, frankly, it’s just too hard to get the butter to mix in without a little of the milk. Still, because the butter is going in with it and there’s just a little liquid, the flour will be coated with the fat.

  22. Hi Eileen

    That’s so amazing and thank you very much for sharing. I’m wondering of baking to get smooth and moist on the surface (no bake and crust).

    Could you please advice

    1. Well,this recipe will always get a bit of a crust because of the whipped egg whites in the batter. Some of the meringue does migrate to the top of the cake and bakes into a crust. Personally, I always trim off the brown edges so I don’t mind if it has a crust. Cake baking strips help keep the cake level.

  23. Hello, I don’t know how I missed this wonderful website. I just knew about it yesterday and I can’t get my eyes of it. Whenever I have few free minutes I jump here.
    I have tried the reverse method before with amazing results.. thank you so much for sharing, I will read about them all.

    Thanks

  24. Oh goodness! I’m so grateful for the course. Thanks! I just finished baking the honey vanilla pound cake which had a link to the course and the cakes are sooooooooo good. I got a 4thumbs up from my husband (hands and feet) I have and am learning a lot. Thanks again.

    1. I’m glad you liked the honey pound cake. It’s such a pretty color and it tastes so good.

  25. Hi, Jen. I think it’s actually the cake made with the traditional creaming method that has the little white specks (the cake on the left in the photos). Honestly, I never noticed the specks until I was editing the photos. I’m not 100% sure what that’s from. When I mixed the batter using the traditional creaming method the batter became curdled looking when the eggs were added. The specks may have something to do with that batter not being completely emulsified, but that’s just a guess. Getting a nicely emulsified batter is one of the reasons I put extra egg yolks in the final recipe.

    Thanks for reading. I hope it’s helpful.

  26. Hi Eileen, thanks for doing this series of cake batter class. I learnt and am learning a lot from your post, especially the Science behind cakes.
    The crust of the cake from the reverse creaming method have lots of white specks compared to the traditional creaming method. Why is that so? I do agree that the texture of the cake from the reverse method is more tender and moist compared to the traditional method.
    Thanks again for being so generous with your knowledge.

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