It’s not because Dearly Beloved and Miss NiNi are frequent in-house gourmet diners, Dear Readers. Rather, ingredients to prepare our simple meals are on the short end of the stick as occupants of a four-wheeled grocery cart.
Multiple containers of flour, sugar, baking chocolate, eggs, and then some noticeably occupy the filled-to-the-top see-through carriage.
In addition, there is one refrigerated ingredient that shouts, “Make room for me in that generous shopping basket!”
What is that ingredient, Dear Readers? Is it milk? Is it sour cream? Granted, the Miss NiNi bakers bake with a generous quantity of those two dairy products.
However, the amount of one-pound packages of butter that move from my cart to the check-out conveyor belt seem to always draw the attention of shoppers who stand behind me while awaiting their rendezvous with the checker.
Dozens of boxes of unsalted butter in the possession of one person usually draw comments of, “Now, that’s a lot of butter!” or “You must be going to bake a lot!” or “If you are going to bake with that, I’m coming to your house!”
It’s BETTER with BUTTER!
I’ll admit! Miss NiNi loves to bake with butter! When butter and sugar are combined in a recipe, taste buds dance a happy jig!
Make no mistake though, Dear Readers, it can take some “playing” with a recipe in order for the butter to produce not only a great flavor but also a Yum-Meets-The-Eye baked treat!
In order to explain how naturally produced butter reacts in a recipe versus man-made shortening, I hopped on to the Internet and moseyed over to a trusted baking source of mine, kingarthurflour.com.
The answer is pretty simple when science gets involved in the equation.
As King Arthur Flour notes, “Butter is 80% butterfat with 18% water and 1-2% milk solids. Hydrogenated vegetable oil shortening is 100% fat.” Yes, that’s the long and short of it, Dear Readers! Now, what does that bit of information have to do with “the price of tea in China?”
In the world of baking science, the quantity of fat used in a recipe makes a significant difference in texture and flavor and overall presentation of the product.
The Science of Baking
Cookies will be bake flatter and crisper when butter is used because of the fat’s lower melting point as compared to shortening. That type of flatter/crisper presentation might be your desired cookie-fashion statement. I dare say though that many cookie enthusiasts would rather see a cookie with better “posture.” In that case, using shortening is the go-to product of choice.
Cakes will be lighter and fluffier when baked with shortening versus butter. Then why not bake all cakes with shortening and forget using butter?
It’s all about that six-letter word—Flavor, Dear Readers. When choosing a fat to use in a baked dessert, butter offers the epitome of rich flavor!
As I mentioned earlier in this chat, when butter is combined with sugar, it is the popular girl on the dance floor of taste-bud happiness! Even my Iowa-State-Fair-pie-baking friends tout the marvelous flavor of a championship-winning, butter-infused pie crust!
In cookie baking, there is a tried-and-true method that assists in producing a less spreadable, more three-dimensional butter-made cookie.
The Miss NiNi bakers always chill cookie dough after mixing and before baking. This intended ticking-of-the-clock wait helps improve the cookie’s flavor, too!
Dear Readers, if you happen to see Miss NiNi in the grocery store’s checkout line, more-than-likely colorfully labeled rectangular boxes of butter will be among the crowded contents of my grocery cart.
I’m on my way to baking-flavor bliss!