"Use cold, not softened – butter for pastry."
We've pulled together some of the best tips for getting the most from your butter.
- If your butter is too cold try grating it. If you need to butter your toast in a hurry, this is a great trick.
- Need to soften butter? While many of us would instinctively throw it in the microwave, the power of the microwave can quickly melt your butter completely into liquid. Instead, heat a glass of water in the microwave, tip the water out and use the glass to soften the butter. Place the desired amount of butter on a small plate and place the glass over the butter.
- Over-softened your butter? You can bring it back to a solid by placing the butter into a bowl, then placing that bowl into a bigger bowl filled with ice and cold water.
- Be careful of butter’s smoke point. While browning can add a rich flavour to any dish, it can be fickle so pay attention if cooking on a high heat.
- Try finishing your pasta with butter. Next time you cook pasta, save some cooking water from the pot when you drain the pasta. Then add your pasta, the extra water and some small pieces of butter to the sauce and simmer for a few minutes.
- Basting meat in butter can really add a delicious finishing touch to your dish. Because butter doesn’t have a high smoke point, don’t sear your meat in butter. Instead, towards the end of the cooking process baste your meat with butter to give your dish a gorgeous silky finish, packed with flavour.
- Always add butter before your milk when making mashed potatoes,. Otherwise the butter can curdle with the milk.
- When sautéing, wait for butter to stop foaming. Sautéing is best done in hot fat so when the foam stops, this is a visual cue that the butter is hot enough.
- Use cold, not softened – butter for pastry. Good pastry requires cold, solid butter distributed throughout the dough that then melt during baking and leave pockets of air behind. To keep butter cold during mixing, you can use a food processor, or grate frozen butter into the dry ingredients.
- Try to avoid melting butter in microwave to soften it – if you leave it too long it could melt and you can’t get the air back into it as the chemical reaction has changed.
- Sugar turns to a liquid when baking so don’t put too much into your pies or tarts. If you are making an apple pie of fruit tart, lightly sprinkle 1 teaspoon of cornflour to every 2 cups of fruit – this will help absorb extra liquid.
- When adding sugar to eggs mix together straight away. Because sugar is acidic so it can start to cook the eggs.
- If you are blind baking pastry and the edges start to brown too quickly, remove from the oven and brush the edges with egg white before putting back in the oven to bake the base. The egg white will seal the party to prevent form cooking further.
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