1. Scale ingredients accurately. Have all ingredients at room temperature.
2. Place the butter or shortening in the mixing bowl. With the paddle attachment, beat slowly until the fat is smooth and creamy.
3. Add the sugar. Cream the mixture at moderate speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. Some bakers prefer to add the salt and flavorings with the sugar to ensure uniform distribution. If melted chocolate is used, it is added during creaming.
4. Add the eggs, a little at a time. After each addition, beat until the eggs are absorbed before adding more. The mixture should be light and fluffy after the eggs are beaten in.
5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing.
6. Add the sifted dry ingredients (including the spices, if they were not added in step 3), alternating with the liquids. This is done as follows:
• Add one-fourth of the dry ingredients. Mix just until blended in.
• Add one-third of the liquid. Mix just until blended in.
• Repeat until all ingredients are used. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally for even mixing.
The reason for adding dry and liquids alternately is that the batter may not absorb all the liquid unless some of the flour is present. Cocoa, if used, is included with the flour.
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