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I was making Victoria sponge cake, and the recipe called for using softened butter, which should then be mixed with sugar using an electric mixer. I did not have an electric mixer, so I decided to melt the butter, and mix the melted butter with the sugar. The cake turned out to taste okay.

Is there any difference between softened butter + electric mixer, and using melted butter?

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Welcome to the site! This is a good question, the answer is that there would be no difference in taste, the difference is in the texture of the sponge. Victoria sponge, and some other types of sponge cakes get some of their their lift (expansion when bakes) from air trapped in the batter. Beating softened butter and sugar together, which is called creaming, traps air in the mix, giving the cake more lift and a more open structure. Mixing melted butter and sugar does not trap air, so your cake will be more dense and less open.

You can cream butter and sugar by hand with a whisk instead of a mixer, it just takes more time and a lot more effort. If you don't have the money or space for a stand mixer (or just don't want one) a handheld stick blender with a whisk attachment is a low cost and minimal space alternative which works extremely well.

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    So the lack of trapped air explains why my cake turned out to be flatter (i.e. less tall) than expected. Thanks! – Flux Apr 9 at 8:15
  • With any sponge relying exclusively on air and water vapor expansion you have to be careful to get as much air in as possible. Victoria sponge is a delicious cake, so a good choice, just a bit tricky. – GdD Apr 9 at 8:19
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    I am surprised at the stick blender with whisk attachment idea, are these common where you live? Here they are niche products, and people who don't have a stand mixer buy a handheld mixer - I once got one for the kitchenette in our sport club for 15 Euro and it performs great. – rumtscho Apr 9 at 8:25
  • I don't know how common they are @rumtscho, but I've found them in both the US and UK, and seen them in yard sales, so I am assuming they are reasonably common. If I had to choose between my stick blender plus attachments and my stand mixer I'd take the stick blender - while sobbing uncontrollably I'd add. – GdD Apr 9 at 8:30
  • @rumtscho When I bought a new stick blender a year ago, almost all the ones I looked at that cost more than ~30€ had a whisk attachment and a miniature food processor included. – Johanna Apr 9 at 8:57

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