Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Butter

I just read a good article in the New York Times: Butter holds the secret to cookies that sing. Good tips on handling and baking with butter, something that I've had trouble with in the past. I really noticed the difference when making pie crusts this summer. Allowing the dough enough time to chill was so helpful in making good crusts that easily roll out.

Some tips from the article:
For mixing and creaming, butter should be about 65 degrees: cold to the touch but warm enough to spread. Just three degrees warmer, at 68 degrees, it begins to melt.

For clean edges on cookies and for even baking, doughs and batters should stay cold — place them in the freezer when the mixing bowl seems to be warming up. And just before baking, cookies should be very well chilled, or even frozen hard.

The best way to get frozen or refrigerated butter ready for creaming is to cut it into chunks. (Never use a microwave: it will melt it, even though it will look solid.) When the butter is still cold, but takes the imprint of a finger when gently pressed, it is ready to be creamed.
I'm already looking forward to making some cookies soon.

The article talks about the variety of butters available to the home baker. I can't think of more than a few in our local stores: the store brand, one bigger brand, and maybe something from Lactancia. Where are all the artisan butters? Is it a function of our dairy board/milk quota system? We're experiencing a flourishing of small cheese-makers in BC, but so far I haven't seen anything similar in the world of butter.

2 comments:

Zoe said...

Very informative article. I never got that, about how if you melt butter, you can re-harden it, but it doesn't really go back to being proper butter. Verrrry interesting.

A few years ago there was always "European Style" butter in the dairy case, but I haven't seen it recently. Next time I'm at the store I will definitely take a look.

Brenton said...

I saw some in Thrifty's when we shopped. Dairyland, I think. I used to buy it, and for an extra dollar it was fine to use for toast and such. The article does mention that the flavours don't make it through in baking.