When I teach baking classes, I always include a small lecture about my favorite ingredient — high quality European-style butter. Many of my students are unfamiliar with European-style butter and are amazed at the difference when they bake with it for the first time. Here are some of the questions and answers that I usually go over in my baking classes:
What is the difference between regular butter and European-style butter?
European-style butter has a higher butter fat content than regular butter (labeled as ‘sweet cream butter’ in the grocery store). This means there is less water in the butter and more butter fat and milk solids. With European-style butters, the butter fat content is around 83-86% while traditional butter is around 80%.
Why is European-style butter better for baking?
Water creates tough pastry so it makes sense to use a butter than contains less water. With European-style butter, you’ll notice a more tender, flaky pastry. Additionally, water is what causes pie crust to shrink when baking, so you will notice less shrinkage when using a higher quality butter. European-butter also has a luscious texture and full, creamy taste that adds another layer of flavor to baked goods. I also enjoy the rich yellow color of European-style butter.
Do I need to use European-style butter in all of my baking?
European-style butter is more expensive than ordinary butter so you don’t need to use it in everything. If you’re making pie dough, laminated doughs, pastries, caramel candies, or something where butter a main flavor, then consider using European-style butter. When ever I am baking something special or want the best possible result, I spring for the European-style butter.
Where do I find European-style butter?
Most grocery stores carry at least one brand of European-style butter. My favorite brands include Plugra, Kerrygold, and Land O’Lakes European Style Butter.