A good slab of quality farmhouse butter can make almost any recipe better, and that’s especially true when it comes to baking. Farmdrop’s resident baker, Meg Weal, shares why proper butter is the only way to go. Especially if you’re making buttercream.
As we all know, “Betty Botter bought some butter, but, she said, the butter’s bitter…but a bit of better butter will make my batter better.” And if you’re asking me, Betty Botter knew what she was on about. A good slab of proper butter can make almost any recipe better (and it’ll transform your toast game forever).
Falling short of making your own (which is incredibly easy by the way), there really is something to be said about baking with proper butter. And not just any butter; good quality, farmhouse butter. I use Longman’s. Thick, creamy, flecked with salt and delicious.
When you use proper butter, it’s not just the taste that gets an upgrade, it’s the texture and richness of your bake, too. A good, rich butter churned only from quality cream (and no added water as is common in many supermarket butters these days) is going to give your baking some serious oomph. I’d argue that it’s especially essential if you’re making pastry, where butter is key to flavour and slivers of fat a necessity to getting the puffs and consistencies you need.
And don’t even consider margarine. Its fat content can be as low as 35%, which means it contains more water and your bakes are going to end up considerably tougher. Pop it back in the fridge for now.
Salted or unsalted?
A lot of bakers like to use unsalted butter in their bakes, which makes sense because it’s nice to be able to control the amount of salt you’re adding. If I’m using salted butter, which I do a lot, I just won’t add any extra salt to the cake mixture, and it’s totally fine. So really, you can do as you please. But there is one element to cake-making that really gets a facelift with salted butter. And that’s buttercream.
The perfect buttercream recipe? Use salted butter
For me, a regular buttercream recipe often verges on being too sweet. The kind of sweet that makes your tongue feel funny. You know the one. So those little flecks in a good salted butter add a much needed hit against a tsunami of sweetness. I make at least a kilogram of buttercream a week and haven’t yet been able to resist a cheeky taste while decorating.
For classic buttercream, I use a standard recipe. Half the amount of butter to the amount of icing sugar (let’s say 250g butter and 500g icing sugar). Cream the butter first to make sure it’s nice and loose, then add the icing sugar bit-by-bit to avoid an icing sugar snow storm. Add a bit of whole milk if you need to loosen it. Easy.
This cream cheese buttercream (pictured) is a bit richer and perfect on a lemon sponge. The addition of cream cheese adds a layer of flavour and gorgeously smooth consistency. Note that because you’re using cream cheese, you need much less butter. Honestly, if cheesecake and ice cream had a baby, this is what it would taste like. I promise you, it’s the only buttercream you’ll ever want to make.
Cream cheese buttercream
– 60g butter
– 140g cream cheese
– 500g icing sugar, sieved
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Gradually add the icing sugar until combined. Stir in the vanilla, and it’s ready. The perfect addition to this lemon & thyme layer cake.
So, what’s the one thing to take away from this? Enjoy butter. Use it as a flavour rather than just a fridge ingredient and your baking will go next level.
For quality farmhouse butter, check out the range at farmdrop.com.
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