When a recipe calls for butter, only real butter will do! Don’t try to substitute. !!!
Below are some tips to enhance the natural wonders of butter:
- Create a smooth finish in a hot sauce by cutting cold butter into small cubes and whisking one or two cubes at a time into the hot sauce over low heat. Continue adding and whisking until all of the butter is incorporated. Use about ¼ cup butter for each cup of sauce. Added gradually , the cold butter will melt more evenly and blend into the sauce better.
- For the best results when using softened butter creamed with sugar in cookies and cakes, the butter should be soft enough that you can easily make an impression with your finger when you press it but not so soft that you can press right through it.
- Avoid crumbs in your butter! Set aside a small portion of butter, either in the fridge or in the cupboard, that is exclusively for toast and make sure everyone knows not to get crumbs in the rest of the butter. For this, salted butter is best because the salt acts as a preservative.
- For the freshest flavour, store only as much butter at room temperature in a covered butter dish that you’ll use within two to three days. In the warm summer months, only take out what you’ll use in one day.
- Maintain the freshness of butter with proper wrapping. Carefully unwrap the foil-laminated paper and cut off as much butter as you need, then re-wrap the remaining butter with the paper. Don’t cut through the wrap or tear it off, as this will leave butter exposed.
- Butter is best when fresh. Though it will last longer, for optimal flavour, only buy what you plan to use within a week or two. If you want to take advantage of specials or find you’re not using it quickly enough, freeze butter to preserve its fresh flavour.
- If you plan to freeze butter for longer storage, cut it into ½ cup portions and wrap each portion in plastic wrap then in foil or place in an airtight container or freezer bag and freeze. This makes it easier to remove a small amount of butter at a time and avoid refreezing.
Thaw frozen butter for 6 to 7 hours in the refrigerator or 3 to 4 hours at room temperature.
Note: Thawing butter in the oven or microwave is not recommended unless your recipe calls for melted butter. Refreezing thawed butter is not a good idea as it will diminish its flavour.
How to soften hard butter
Each of the methods below works well. Use the one that best suits you.
On the counter:
- Cut a large block or the measured piece of chilled butter into smaller squares and leave on the counter for about 30 minutes.
- Place butter, cut into smaller pieces, over a bowl of hot, not boiling, water.
- Beat butter with an electric mixer in a large bowl until it softens (then add remaining ingredients if baking).
- Place butter between two sheets of waxed paper or parchment paper and shape it with the palm of your hand, or roll it with a rolling pin until it reaches the texture you want.
In the microwave:
Cut the butter into small pieces and spread out on a microwave-safe plate or bowl. Loosely cover the bowl with a paper towel. Use Medium-Low (30%) power for a few seconds – watching it closely. Stop the microwave and check the butter every 5 to 10 seconds to make sure it isn’t melting.
Note: If you accidentally melt your butter, don’t use it for baking as you won’t get the desired texture. Instead, use it for something else like sautéing or drizzling over cooked vegetables.
How to use butter when it’s hard
- From the freezer: Grate frozen butter onto waxed paper or onto a cutting board using the coarse holes of a box grater. It
will quickly become room temperature.
- From the fridge: Do you want butter to spread on bread or toast, but it’s fridge hard? Use a cheese plane to cut paper-thin slices of butter that soften rapidly on contact with your bread or toast.
- Butter should never be melted on high heat. High heat causes the milk solids to separate out and can burn the butter.
- Melt butter on the stove-top in a heavy saucepan or the top of a double boiler over medium-low or medium heat. Watch butter carefully when melting and remove it from the heat when it’s about three-quarters melted, then stir until it’s completely melted.
- In the microwave, cut butter into small pieces and loosely cover the bowl with paper towel. Melt on Medium-Low (30%) power or Defrost, checking every 10 to 15 seconds until it’s almost melted but a few small solid pieces remain. Remove from the microwave and stir until it’s completely melted.
Clarified butter is butter which has had its water and milk solids removed. Once clarified, butter can resist higher cooking temperatures, making it better for pan-frying than whole butter. It is also used as a base for various sauces.
- In a shallow saucepan or a skillet, melt the butter over low heat until it liquefies. As it heats up, carefully skim off the froth that floats to the top with a spoon, and discard.
- Once the top layer is a clear yellow colour (this is the clarified butter) and the solids have sunk to the bottom, carefully pour the clarified layer through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a clean jar or container – leaving the solids in the pan. You may need to use a small spoon to carefully spoon off the last of the clarified butter.
- Use the clarified butter immediately or let it cool, cover tightly and refrigerate it for up to 3 weeks. Simply re-melt to use. The solids can be added to sauces, mashed potatoes, or soups to add some richness. Be sure to refrigerate any extra solids and use within 1 week.
Regular whole butter has a low smoking and burning point. For that reason, pan-frying and sautéing should be done over moderate, never high, heat.
- For the best results in sautéing and pan-frying, heat the pan first, then add the butter; swirl to quickly coat the pan, then add the food to be sautéed or fried.
- If you want to sauté or pan-fry with butter over high heat, especially for meats or crisped herbs or vegetables, used clarified butter or add canola oil to the butter in the pan, using a ratio of ⅓ oil to ⅔ butter.
Many recipes for baked goods instruct to “cream” the butter. This helps incorporate air into the batter, giving a light and tender texture.
- Measure the amount of butter you need and soften it just enough that your finger easily leaves an impression in the butter when you press it.
- Place the butter in a large bowl and use a wooden spoon or an electric mixer to stir or beat the butter until it is smooth, creamy and a uniform texture.
- Add the sugar or other ingredients called for in the recipe to further cream them together.
How to “Cut” Butter into Dry Ingredients
Pie crusts, pastries, scones and biscuit dough generally use this technique. Measure cold butter, cut it into small cubes (about the size of your little finger tip or according to the recipe directions) and return it to the fridge for at least 15 minutes to make sure it is well chilled. Chill the bowl you’ll use for mixing, too. Combine the dry ingredients in the chilled bowl then sprinkle the cubes of butter over top. Use a pastry blender (also called a pastry cutter) with an up and down motion or two dinner knives with one in each hand, cutting in opposite directions, repeating until the butter is in tiny pieces or until the butter and flour mixture clumps together in tiny pieces and the mixture resembles coarse meal (some recipes will call for fine meal or for the butter to only be cut into small pieces). Using cold butter and coating the dry ingredients in this way creates flaky layers in the pastry or dough.
How to “Rub” Butter into Dry Ingredients
Measure cold butter, cut it into small cubes (about the size of your little finger tip or according to the recipe directions) and return it to the fridge for at least 15 minutes to make sure it is well chilled. Chill the bowl you’ll use for mixing, too. Combine the dry ingredients in the chilled bowl. Rub the cubes of cold butter through a coarsely textured sieve letting them fall on top of the dry ingredients. Then use a fork to quickly combine the butter and flour mixture.
- Some recipes will specify to use your fingers to rub in the butter. Use just your finger-tips (not your warm hands) and quick motions, pinching your fingers to mash the small pieces of butter into the dry ingredients until moist crumbs form. This is often used for streusel or crumble toppings.
- Smooth slabs or cubes: Warm a thin-bladed knife in hot water, wipe it dry then cut a brick of butter into slabs or cubes. Warm the knife and wipe it after each cut.
- Little balls: Dip a melon baller in hot water and scoop away (as you would with ice cream).
- Whimsical shapes: Spread a good-sized block of softened butter between two sheets of waxed paper or parchment paper and roll it into an even layer with a rolling pin. Slide paper onto a baking sheet or tray and refrigerate until firm. Remove the top sheet of paper, then cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Peel away scraps and reserve for another use.
- Round disks: Roll softened butter into a log shape and wrap it in waxed paper, parchment paper or plastic wrap. For an added flavour or garnish, roll the log in finely chopped herbs, dried spices or finely chopped nuts, then wrap. Refrigerate until chilled. Unwrap the butter and place on a cutting board. Warm a thin-bladed knife in hot water, wipe it dry then cut the log into disks. Warm the knife and wipe it after each cut.
- Butter curls: Start with very cold butter, use a special tool called a butter curler and slowly, but firmly scoop along the brick of butter into curls. This does take some practice so be prepared to have some less-than-beautiful pieces of butter to use in baking, cooking or on your toast!