The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Why use cold butter?

Angelo's picture

Why use cold butter?

I'm making scones today after some posts I saw from HenryD, and it has sparked a question for me.

Why do the most of the scone recipes I come across call for chopped up cold butter?

Maybe the answer will be obvious to me once I combine the ingrendients. I'm trying to think; wouldn't you want everything to be fully incorporated, and not risk chucks of butter in your dough?


RobynNZ's picture

Ensuring those little pieces of butter melt in the oven is said to help with tender, flaky scones.

Yet scones made with lemonade and cream produce wonderful result too, so I've always wondered about this one too!

audra36274's picture

I have tried cream, but Sprite? Lemonade? Sound like a neat thing to try! Always open for new stuff.


audra36274's picture

pockets. That is how we have flaky layers in pie crusts and croissants.The butter separates the flour "layers". When you make a parkerhouse roll, it is rolled out rectangular and butter in the center and folded over. It doesn't stick together and creates a pocket for you. You can lift it and insert ham or whatever. Butter serves many purposes in baking and has a reason for each.  If your dough is kept cold, it will have little bits of dispersed butter. In the heat of the oven, that butter melts into the dough but leaves pockets of layers through the dough. You can use a pastry blender/cutter, or the food processor, or even your hands, just be sure to work quickly so as not to raise the temperature with the heat of your hands. All this makes it sound hard, but it is not. Just remember

1, keep it cold

2. don't over mix

3. don't eat too many ;- ) !!



P.S. A good addition is dried cranberries and orange zest. Mix a little orange juice in the glaze for the top. Yum! 

PaddyL's picture

There was a recipe on Delia Smith's website some time ago for a flaky pie crust, that called for frozen butter grated straight into the flour.  Worked for me!

Dcn Marty's picture
Dcn Marty

Butter contains both fat and water. Fats coat the gluten proteins and prevent formation of structure. Water, at normal baking temperatures, creates steam. By using cold butter, you minimize its absorption into the flour, thus helping with gluten formation and the development of structure. By laminating cold butter between layers of dough, you create pockets to contain the steam formed during heating. The end result of all this is to achieve a better rise and a flaky structure, plus better butter flavor than would be achieved in any other way.