The most common mistakes made by home bakers, professionals say, have to do with the care and handling of one ingredient: butter. Creaming butter correctly, keeping butter doughs cold, and starting with fresh, good-tasting butter are vital details that professionals take for granted, and home bakers often miss.
Butter is basically an emulsion of water in fat, with some dairy solids that help hold them together. But food scientists, chefs and dairy professionals stress butter’s unique and sensitive nature the way helicopter parents dote on a gifted child.
. . . 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.
. . . Cold butter’s ability to hold air is vital to creating what pastry chefs call structure — the framework of flour, butter, sugar, eggs and leavening that makes up most baked goods.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
The Key Is the Butter
When it comes to making holiday cookies that tickle the taste buds, the N.Y. Times' Julia Moskin explains why butter is the key.