The B Word

Sometimes in cooking, as in life – There is no substitution.

 

It seems that our romance with nutty, golden, rich, and creamy butter has come back! For some, it has never left. The gambit of trendy manufactured substitutions has reigned for some time, trying to satisfy our craving for the salty tang butter delivers. Hell, they even named one ‘I can’t believe it’s not’. Oh, but I can. In some cases the real deal is the only thing that will do.

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It amazes me how the initial state and consistency of butter is so distinct in the way it can change a recipe and the taste that it applies. When the technique is applied correctly it can make to most wonderful culinary dishes. When applied incorrectly the results can be less than stellar. For example, using anything but chilled butter for puffed pastry can results in disaster. Making note of your recipe specifics can help eliminate those faux pas.

 

Chilled or Cold Butter –

Small pieces are usually incorporated into pastries dough or biscuit like breads. As the butter melts and cooks it creates steam that lifts the dough and creates air pockets. Using a pastry cutter or even grating the butter allows for smaller portions to be consistently worked in.

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Softened Butter or Room Temperature –

In this state the butter is more receptive to combining with sugars and liquids when making cakes and cookies. You may not be aware, but air is being incorporated into the base ingredients to make your end result more light and fluffy.

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Melted Butter –

The stove top method provides additional control over the melt than using the microwave. Moisture is lost during the melting process and the butter adds a certain richness to the recipes. As long as the leavening agent is enough to bring lightness to the overall results your cakes will turn out fine. Used in some cakes and brownie recipes.

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Clarified Butter –

The golden child of the kitchen! (Not that we have a favorite.) Heating the butter to extract the richness and flavour that is hidden within. It is simply – separating the milk solids and water from the butter and removing them. Add it to any dish as a finishing touch as it delivers true butter taste with a smooth and silky texture.

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Acting as both the core of a recipe and finishing touch, butter is indeed versatile in the way it interacts with other ingredients. The way it is incorporated into a recipe can change the outcome of your creation – like some weird science experiment.

So pick up a pound and have some fun falling in love again. It will love you back!

 
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