It’s meltable, measurable, and moldable. It can be in liquid or solid form. It’s one of the most well-loved, most well-used ingredients in Miss NiNi’s dessert-baking arsenal. What is it Dear Readers?
If you guessed, butter, you guessed correctly!
One could say that Miss NiNi has had a lifetime relationship with butter. Now, I might be weaving this correlation with pretty thin threads. However, during the wee hours of the morning of my birth, Dad would not take Mom to the hospital until he had milked the cows. Milk comes from cows. Butter is produced by separating cream from milk. Sounds like a pretty logical personal Miss NiNi butter account, wouldn’t you say!?!?
Dear Readers, Miss NiNi isn’t the only person who became the central character in a butter saga.
Centuries ago, Nomads had a “hip-hip-hooray butter day” long before Miss NiNi was born!
An Accidental Invention
My source at joyofbaking.com reflects that after the vagabonds had halted their travels to attend to chores and camp for the night, their cows, or ewes (sheep) or nannies (goats) were milked, and the cream was separated from the milk. Perhaps, it was out of boredom or maybe a young Nomad lad was reprimanded, set apart from the crowd with a container of cream and sternly told to “Keep stirring until you can apologize!” Whatever the reason, the accidental invention of a new ingredient—butter–was born!
We associate the color, yellow, with butter. However, in order to obtain the yellow color in this from-the-cow-source, creamy white product, sometimes a coloring agent known as “annatto” is added.
A cow’s diet varies which can make a definitive color difference in the milk she produces. But by adding coloring to the butter, the consumer is guaranteed a year-round, pound-after-pound dependable presentation of the butter that is purchased.
Why does Miss NiNi use butter in dessert baking, Dear Readers? It’s all about Flavor! Flavor! Flavor!
Man-made shortenings can be substituted for butter, but it takes 80% butterfat that is found in American produced butter to give a richness of flavor.
The Real Deal
Butter works hand in hand with sugar, eggs, and flour to give body and texture to baked treats. In the beginning stages of recipe preparation, when butter is whipped, air pockets are formed. Then when creaming the butter with sugar, more air pockets are added making a perfect opportunity for leavening agents such as baking soda and baking powder to expand those air pockets and thereby give a beautiful flaky texture.
Miss NiNi uses butter in three forms–softened butter, melted butter and even gently browned butter.
Why brown butter, Dear Readers? Slowly browning butter in a pan on the stovetop produces a pleasantly rich, nutty, full-bodied flavor. When added to the batter, my, oh my, there is a positive taste-bud-alert enhancement in the “Yum” of the product! One caution, though. I do not recommend browning butter for every recipe. Once butter is melted into a liquid state, the outcome of a product’s texture can be greatly affected.
Oh yes, butter is moldable! Just ask the butter artists who sculpt the famous state fair butter cows! Beautiful butter sculptures are carved and showcased in 40-degree, glass-encased booths and attract thousands of curious onlookers annually. You, too, can become your own novice butter artist with the use of wooden butter paddles or molds.
Butter—beautifully meltable, measurable, and moldable.