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What would be a good brand of butter for home baking?

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FoodHacker's picture
FoodHacker

What would be a good brand of butter for home baking?

I have been making yeast breads as well as quick breads and intend to make cookies and the like.

 

But I guess the real question is what butter fat percentage should I try to shoot for?

yy's picture
yy

For everyday baking, whatever your supermarket has for cheapest is probably fine. I'm not sure about the percentage - around 80% or so?

If you want the butter flavor in your product to be very assertive, go for a European style butter, which has higher fat content - something like 82-85% depending on the brand. My two favorites are Plugra and Kerrygold. I use it, for instance,  if I want to make a really buttery tasting brioche or for Croissants, because the higher fat content makes the butter more pliable for lamination. Whenever I make something with European style butters, I find that I tend to eat less of it - not because it tastes bad (to the contrary, actually) but because it's so rich I need less of it to be satisfied.

 

Sjadad's picture
Sjadad

I agree, Plugra and Kerrygold are excellent for baking.  So is Luprak, a great butter from Denmark.  Be very careful that you buy unsalted butter.  Read the labels, sometimes it is not obvious whether the imported butters are salted or unsalted.

You'll be surprised what a noticeable difference "premium" butter makes in your baking.

Amori's picture
Amori

Plugra, Luprak & Elle Vire are amazing butters for baking. For some strage reason, local stores carry salted and garlic  Kerrygold butter .  Since you mentioned cookies, I have to admit that unsalted Land O' Lakes has the best dollar value for goods with strong flavors [ie chocolate, citrus, coffee] and has been suprisingly good!

 

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Organic Valley makes two different unsalted cultured butters.  One with 84% butterfat and the other does not state the (lower) butterfat content.  I have used them both with great success.

Jeff

 

FoodHacker's picture
FoodHacker

I actually just found about an hour ago at the local grocery store an organic brand called "Full Circle" that is unsalted and was actually cheaper than most other brands including Plugra and Land O Lakes.

aytab's picture
aytab

If you haven't tried it yet then make your own butter. I make all of my own butter both salted and unsalted. It's fun to do and the "buttermilk" that is leftover is fantastic!! Oh I mold mine into little silicone molds.

G-man's picture
G-man

This is the way to go. If you mix in a tiny bit of plain yogurt with active cultures (it HAS to have active cultures) you'll have European-style butter. It will have a little bit of tang and taste even a little cheesy. Great stuff, better than anything you can get in the store.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

from the Irish Dairy Board in Ireland is by far the best butter available in the USA .  Nothing is even close including home made - unless your milk comes from Irish cows that eat the 'Emerald Isle' grasses.  It is expensive, but available in many supermarkets and Costco.

jaywillie's picture
jaywillie

Cook's Illustrated tasted unsalted butters last fall, and they liked Plugra for high-fat cultured butter and Land-o-Lakes for supermarket butter. Kerrygold came in second-to-last in a list of 10 butters, just ahead of Horizon Organic.

CI says a major component of butter flavor is how the butter is wrapped. Butter picks up refrigerator flavors very easily, and the wrapper can go a long way in protecting whatever flavor was there at the dairy. That's one reason the Land-o-Lakes did well in the tasting -- it has a wrapper that provides extra protection. I've started keeping my butter in plastic bags. 

suave's picture
suave

CI is a great publication, but not living in New England and having access to rich and vibrant selection of ethnic stores, I often find their choice of groceries to test strange and limited.

gerhard's picture
gerhard

I wonder how the subtleties of various brands of butter's flavour variations survive the baking process.  I have no idea how true this is in general but I doubt that I could tell the difference between brand A or B of butter used in baking cookies, pastries etc.

Gerhard

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

when butter is spread on bread. 

gerhard's picture
gerhard

No doubt but I thought the question was about the use of butter as an ingredient.

Gerhard

suave's picture
suave

Perhaps they will survive to a degree if you are making something that has a very high percentage of butter,  say, brioche or croissant (that is until you cut that croissant and spread some jam on it).   But fat content would probably matter more.

jaywillie's picture
jaywillie

I agree -- the subtle differences between great and good butter are going to be lost in baking. Plus, if you're using the high-fat butter in baking, you do have to account for the higher fat content/less moisture content. It's going to have an impact on the recipe.

But like dabrownman says, spreading butter on bread is a real test of its flavor. In my personal taste tests, I find the differences too subtle for me at times, but I love the mouth feel of the high-fat butters. I like Plugra, but not enough to spend the money it costs. I like butter at room temperature, but I don't eat enough of it to leave it out! Land-o-Lakes works for me, especially for baking, because it's readily available and occasionally even goes on sale. 

In my neck of the woods -- probably in many other places as well, given the growth of artisan foods these days -- there is a local dairy making a high-fat butter, although it appears to not be a cultured butter so how they can call it "European style" I don't know. (I only know enough about this to get myself in trouble, but "cultured" is the European butter process, with the cream allowed to ripen for a few days for flavor, then injected with cultures before churning. American butter is "sweet cream" butter, cream churned after little or no storage time.) I got some at the holidays and it was OK. For those in Oregon, it's this place: 

http://www.larsenscreamery.com/products/fine_butter_products.html

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

I have to say I can't remember having a really bad butter either.  At least one that wasn't rancid or spoiled.  I think I could say the same thing about wine and beer though too :-)

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Great baked goods are made from great ingredients.  This would most certainly include butter.  Yes, the qualities of many ingredients are quite muted in the final product but greatness is made up of many little subtleties.  These quiet characteristics are achieved with top quality ingredients and cannot be achieved through the use of second rate product.

Jeff

gerhard's picture
gerhard

It would be interesting to make the same shortbread cookie recipe using generic grocery store butter, premium domestic butter and an imported brand of butter and then have a blind taste test and see if folks can consistantly rate the cookies. Have the same people rate the cookies on three or four different occasions and see if there is any consistant pattern or if the results were totally random.  Maybe someone knows of such an experiment and the results.

Gerhard

 

 

suave's picture
suave

Well, I can tell you how this experiment worked with wine.   And Cook's Illustrated had very similar results with vanilla extracts a few years ago.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

coconut butter          salt free    

 There is no other kind in my mind.     

 

Patf's picture
Patf

That sounds a good suggestion, Mini. I often use coconut milk as an alternative to cow's cream in savoury dishes.

I've never used butter in bread as I like to keep it pareve. At what stage do you add it, and how?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven
golfermd's picture
golfermd

I purchase my butter at either place for ~$2/lb and get excellent results. Land O'Lakes is nearly $5/lb and I can't taste the difference between them in my baked goods.

Dan

johnr55's picture
johnr55

I buy Falfurrias butter.  Why?  I could sound all pretentious and say that "nothing else will do" or "it's the only one".  Nonsense.  I buy it because it's the only creamery butter still made in Texas, it's fresh, it's cost effective.  If we don't try to buy local we can't complain when we can't buy local.  I'm sure Chi-Chi and Plu-Plu and some of these others are just great and the Euros are enjoying our buying into it.  I'd dare anybody to find the difference in my baking. 

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

I've been wanting to try Falfurrias's butter, but have only seen the salted variety in the stores. Maybe someday. ;)

cheers,

gary

Kristiina's picture
Kristiina

I'm quite fortunate to live in a country where milk products are valued very highly. I have a few good quality butters to choose from and I pick the best one to ensure a good outcome. It's not exported but it has 82% fat content and it's very light yellow with very light sweet smell. When butter has too much contact with oxygen, it gets darker yellow. There might be brands that are aiming for that "buttery" color but I see yellow butter as a sign that it has oxidised and gained a rancid flavor.

A few years ago I spent some time in California and it took me a while to find "real" butter, even in whole foods market. I don't believe in margarine and I'm very squeemish about food additives, especially when cooking or baking. I was really happy when I finally found something labeled "sweet cream butter", which is un-salted butter made with pasteurized cream. It was the real thing! Too bad I can't remember the brand name. 

Anyway, I wouldn't bake with anything less than over 80% fat real butter. I use oil only in pizza dough. If I use good incredients, I love the dough more and I love making it and take better care of it. As a result it rises better and tastes better. 

kallisto's picture
kallisto (not verified)

My absolute favorite butter is the one, which is recommended by Pierre Herme in his book "Ph 10".

A coupe of weeks ago, I discovered two shops selling the "Beurre de la viette" and other french butters. At first, the price was a bit deterrent, but at home I tried it out and the taste is amazing. I forced my dad to try the butter out. He fell in love with this butter right away.  Next time, I'm gonna bake the 100% Butter Brioche from txfarmer's blog with it.

Buffalo Butter has also sparked my interest. Has anyone tasted it already?

 

 

johnr55's picture
johnr55

Really?  I can buy Falfurrias salted or non.  I always buy unsalted, whether cooking with it or not.  It's certainly sweet cream and it's certainly loved in my house.  Not much snob appeal but a crowd pleaser anyway.  That, and I like buying locally.

Richard K/TX