19 February 2009



JUST CALL ME MELLOW YELLOW : Field Guide to Butter & Baking

Recently I have been reading the book TASTE by Kate Colquhoun, in which she describes the creation of English butter as an accident! When people travelled, cream was stored in leather pouches, which bumped and jostled along the route, until it thickened and turned into butter.

I remember learing how to make butter in kindergarden, it was like a field trip – but in the classroom! First we had to quietly get into a straight line (which was easier said than done for 15 little girls) and then each of us was given a glass jar, into which the teacher poured lovely thick cream. Tightly closing the lid, we shook the jars, watching in amazement as pale yellow islands gradually formed. Pouring out the remaining milk, we pressed the butter to remove excess water, rinsed & dried each cube & voila homemade butter!

Butter may have been simple to make but I’ve found that  it can be delicate to cook with, especially when it comes to baking. The New York Times has a great article on how butter holds the key to making great cookie, which seemed particularly appropriate to my current post, as one of only three main ingredients used is BUTTER!

THE BUTTER GUIDE – Here is a snippet:

  • Cold butters ability to hold air is the key to prefect dough / pastry!
  • Creaming butter softens it & adds the air bubbles
  • Preparing refrigerated butter for creaming: Cut butter into cubes, spread out on a plate & leave at room temp (do not use microwave or oven)
  • Ready to cream test: when butter is still cool but takes a finger imprint when gently pressed
  • Cream for at least 3 minutes at medium speed