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NY Times article on butter making the difference in baking

I’m not a baker. I bake, and I do pretty good, but I don’t like measuring which is rather important in baking. I also prefer savory over sweet, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth.

In order to get better at baking, I’ve become a Daring Baker, and am always on the lookout for tips of the trade. This article from the New York Times was pointed out on Foodbuzz by the Alchemist Chef.

It talks about the importance of how you treat your butter. I’ve learned butter makes a big difference, in the cookies above I accidentally used double the butter and it made them just melt in my mouth! Eric ate most of them in one sitting 🙂 The article’s an interesting read, here’s just a few tips they had:

For mixing and creaming, butter should be about 65 degrees: cold to the touch but warm enough to spread. Just three degrees warmer, at 68 degrees, it begins to melt.“Once butter is melted, it’s gone,” said Jennifer McLagan, author of the new book “Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, With Recipes” (Ten Speed Press).Warm butter can be rechilled and refrozen, but once the butterfat gets warm, the emulsion breaks, never to return.

For clean edges on cookies and for even baking, doughs and batters should stay cold — place them in the freezer when the mixing bowl seems to be warming up. And just before baking, cookies should be very well chilled, or even frozen hard.

The best way to get frozen or refrigerated butter ready for creaming is to cut it into chunks. (Never use a microwave: it will melt it, even though it will look solid.) When the butter is still cold, but takes the imprint of a finger when gently pressed, it is ready to be creamed. When using a stand mixer, attach the paddle blade, and never go above medium speed, or the butter will heat up.

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