Butter

Appears in

Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafes of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague

Kaffeehaus

By Rick Rodgers

Published 2002

All of the recipes in this book were tested with Grade AA unsalted butter. During the postwar period in Vienna and the Communist regimes in Budapest and Prague, margarine necessarily was used in baking, but butter has been welcomed back. Butter is preferred not only for taste but for texture; margarine makes greasy pastries and cakes. Unsalted butter also allows the baker to control the amount of salt in the recipe, and as salt can cover up any off flavors in rancid butter, unsalted butter is usually fresher.

For creaming with a handheld electric mixer, butter should be softened to cool room temperature until malleable, and not squishy and shiny. To soften butter at room temperature, cut the butter into thin slices or Β½-inch cubes and let stand for about 15 minutes. (Use this time to complete other steps in the recipe, like measuring the other ingredients and greasing the pans.)

One of my favorite tricks, which I learned from the late, great food writer Richard Sax, is to grate a cube of chilled butter on the large holes of a cheese grater; it will be the perfect consistency for creaming. If you have a heavy-duty standing mixer, you can use chilled butter straight from the refrigerator, cut into thin slices, beating for about 1 minute at high speed until smooth and light colored. After the butter is smooth, add the sugar and continue creaming. Some cooks soften butter in a microwave, but it’s not worth the risk of melting.

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