Tuesday, July 31, 2012

All things butter...

It's probably no surprise that because of my butter obsession, I branched out to things butter-related. 

One of my favorite baking ingredients is buttermilk (and yes, the UK buttermilk is out this world compared to the US stuff).  Buttermilk helps improve the texture of some baked goods.  The acidity in the buttermilk reacts with baking soda (be sure there is baking soda in the recipe if you're using buttermilk) and releases carbon dioxide into the batter.  This CO2 creates a fluffier texture, vs. a dense texture.  A good example is scones.  Some scones can be brick-like, while others tend not to be.  Those that aren't have something acidic in the recipe reacting with the baking soda to create a fluffier texture (= better texture, at least in my book). 

Another essential ingredient that i'm very familiar with is buttercream.  I ran a very small organic cupcake business out of my home when I was living in California.  I became well acquainted with your basic buttercream, as well as the more complicated ones (Italian Buttercream being my favorite - it's GORGEOUS!).  There's nothing quite like a great frosting to go on top of a wonderful cupcake or cake (or to be eaten just out of the bowl, who are we kidding??).  Since relocating to the UK, I haven't made too many baked goods requiring frosting, so i'll be interested to see how much better the frosting is here due to the better quality butters available.  We shall see!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Butter...there is no substitute!

I never quite trusted recipes that substituted margarine or other 'inferior' products for butter.  My initial thought was, 'why trifle with perfection?'  Alas, I haven't really swayed from butter in baking recipes with the exception of the occasional oil (ex: carrot cake cupcakes) and non-dairy based substitutes for dairy-free recipes (the stuff at Whole Foods...you know the one).  Am I missing something, or do you agree?

The first post...

Is there anything truly finer than really good butter?  I ask you.  I personally think not.  This has since been reinforced since relocating to the UK sixteen months ago where I've found the dairy to be nothing short of sensational.  Why this is, I've yet to research, but I suspect the dairy farms, dairy cows, and somehow the weather are all contributing factors.  Whatever the reason, I couldn't be happier! 

My obsession with butter most likely began at birth (similar to that of my daughter's, whom I'm sure her first real food was butter and still does enjoy stealing the butter off of the counter and stuffing it in her mouth), almost the same time I decided that I loved to bake (well, actually I was 3).  My first cook book, that I browsed through just recently, was the "New Junior Cook Book" by Better Homes and Gardens.  My first foray into baking was because of this book, and I was instantly hooked.  My Snickerdoodles were an instant success (so claimed my dad) and my passion for baking was born (afterall, butter and baking go hand in hand, right?). 

I suppose when you seek enjoyment from something, the end result is usually a good one.  This is true with me and baking.  For whatever reason, it always came naturally to me, and is something I love to do.  Since relocating to the UK, i've chosen to be a SAHM = stay at home mom (read: part time baker).  After dropping the grommets (children) off at nursery, I usually get together with some of the other SAHM and we have 'tea' at someone's home (tea = meal of some sort depending on time of day).  Everyone usually brings something, and for me that means a baked good since I love to bake.  Why everyone in the clan thinks my baking is stellar still eludes me, but nevertheless i've been persuaded to start teaching in-home baking lessons to all of my mum friends.  Good or bad idea?  I ask you.  I'm still mulling it over to be honest.  In the meantime, I thought a blog might be a good place to begin documenting my obsession with butter (and all things dairy, really, here in the UK) and baking.