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One of the best reasons for using the rubbing-in method is that the hard work is done by our own hands so no machine or gadget is needed. And it is not a difficult technique to master - even a child can do it! But don't hang about - it should be done quickly and lightly, introducing a bit of air where possible and without melting the fat. Need to learn how to rub fat into flour to make a cake? Here is our definitive 10 step guide to the rubbing-in method in baking:-
Weigh your flour and put into a roomy mixing bowl. You need to get your hands in the bowl so give yourself a decent-sized bowl so you have space to work.
Weigh your fat (butter or margarine). It shouldn't be at room temperature like with other cakes - straight from the fridge is actually better as the fat won't melt as you rub.
Put the fat into the bowl with the flour.
Start with a table knife and chop the fat into small pieces.
Once the fat is well chopped, it's time to get your hands dirty! (Ensure you have clean hands).
Using both hands, pick up handfuls of fat and flour and rub them together between your fingertips and thumbs. The fat and flour will combine into what look a bit like breadcrumbs.
Try and lift up the fat and flour as you do it so you introduce air into the mixture - do the rubbing above rather than in the mixture.
Use the tips of your fingers not your whole hands as this keeps the ingredients cooler.
Give the bowl a shake every now and then to allow the remaining lumps of fat to come to the top. Keep going at this until all the lumps of fat have disappeared and you are left with a whole bowl of breadcrumb-like particles.
This should take no more than 5 minutes (once you've got the hang of it!). Don't over-do it or you'll make the fat too warm.
Now you know how to do the rubbing-in method, you may be wondering what recipes use the rubbing-in method. Our own banana loaf cake recipe is a great example of a cake that uses the rubbing-in method - it's one of the reasons we prefer this recipe as you don't need a mixer or food processor to make the cake. Visit our home page or click on banana loaf recipe to see our definitive banana loaf recipe, and read our various articles about how to vary the ingredients, how to know if your banana loaf is cooked, how to store your banana loaf, whether you can freeze bananas and how to bake successfully with kids.
Here's a list of recipes we love that use the rubbing-in method