Thursday, October 04, 2007

I Can't Believe It's Real Butter

I was just at the supermarket tonight buying some butter for the cake which I was going to make. As usual, I was faced with the same conundrum, which butter to buy. I'm one of those people who isn't too health conscious and doesn't use butter in their baking. I love the taste and texture that only butter can produce. It just isn't the same without butter. So for me, the question isn't whether to buy "I can't believe it's not butter" butter, but which brand of butter to buy.

You see, there's a saying that "you shouldn't use wine that you're not willing to drink". Well, does the same saying go for butter. My problem is that the home brand butter only costs about $1 per 250g. All the branded butter go from about $2 per 250g up to $4 for the special Tasmanian butter. I know that when I use the butter to eat, I definitely prefer the branded stuff. It's just smoother and taste better. But when I'm putting it into a cake, is there any difference?

I haven't done any side by side testing of the butter put into two separate batches of the same cake, so I really don't know whether the branded stuff makes the cakes taste any better. Usually, my theory is that I will use the cheaper home brand butter if the cake is a rich heavy cake. I think that the other flavours will mask the flavour of the butter anyway. But if it's a like cake, then I will use the more expensive butter since the flavours might come through. That's just my own theory.

Has anyone done tests to see if home brand butter works just as well as the branded stuff. The price difference is quite substantial, 100% more in fact. So if the effect is the same, then obviously I would rather use the cheaper stuff. As for fake butter or margarine in cakes, NOT IN MY KITCHEN. :-)


  1. I agree it depends on the type of cake. For a rich chocolate cake I don't think you'll notice but in something delicate such as a sponge you probably will. That said I think the quality of butter in this country is generally quite good.

  2. i am very very fussy about butter. And even with chocolate cake, I still want good butter in it. I have done the test, too. Really Lurpark butter is the best choice from supermarket. It's richer and has less water content, resulting in a better texture!

    I would recommend Lurpark or Gingar (may spell the name incorrectly :P) for baking.

  3. Although I rarely bake I tend to use the freshly churned stuff they cut off a slab at Victoria Market or some of the farmers markets. It's so beautiful - I could eat a slice of it. Makes a big difference in anything you bake.

    We don't do margerine either but for the sake of health - Mr Stickyfinger's family have a history of high cholesterol - we use Western Star's butter and olive oil blend for spreading and I keep ghee for cooking.

  4. Truffle, I guess we're on the same train of thought. I had a chocolate cake and sponge cake in mind as well when I was writing about rich cakes and lighter cakes.

    Anh, you are a dedicated cook indeed, doing side by side tests. I've seen Lurpark and Ginger or Gingar butter in the supermarket, but have been deterred due to their price. I will try some next time and see how they go.

    Stickyfingers, I totally agree that freshly churned stuff is the best, but I live really far from Vic Markets and hence can't go there all the time. I don't mind using margarine to spread on my toast either, but butter really does taste better.

    We will meet up one day and just go to a restaurant and ask for quality butter and just eat bread. Wouldn't that be strange but cool at the same time? Or am I slightly silly?

  5. For cakes and pastry I only ever use unsalted butter. I don't use much of it, so $1.69 every two or three weeks doesn't break the budget.

    If money were no object... Apparently Damien Pignolet swears by French butter, which is cultured, for pastry making.

    Money IS an object, though. Having said that, the best omelettes I've made used the slightest scrape of unsalted Lescure on the pan.

    If I am going to eat butter on bread, which is almost never, it has to be unsalted Lescure. I can't abide not-butter, full stop, and it's fearful stuff health-wise.

  6. Eat to Live, I also use unsalted butter for cakes and pastries. I use quite a lot of it, so that's why the cost thing is an issue.

    I never knew people were so passionate about their butter. Where can I buy this Lescure butter and how much does it cost? I wouldn't mind trying some.

  7. The cheapest place is an organics shop at South Melbourne Market - 250g for 5.25. Fancy delicatessens also sell it. You can also buy it in 125g packets.

    David Jones also sell it at the ridiculously inflated price of 8.95! DJs also often sell it disgustingly close to its useby date. Never buy from DJs :)

    Eat it with a baguette from Dench's, and nothing else. It is the perfect accompaniment to real bread.

    It's a pity that French butter is so expensive. In England, you can buy President for 99p ($2.50), which is the same price as Lurpack.

  8. Eat to Live, $5.25 is definitely high for butter, but if it's good, I want to buy some to eat with my bread.

    As much as I want to go to South Melbourne Market, it is far from where I live. So I might have to buy it from DJ :-( I will look out for the use by date though. If I really like it, then I will have to make a trip to South Melbourne Market and pick up a few packets.

    I totally agree that all you need with good butter is good bread. I still remember how great the butter and bread tasted at Movida. I wonder what butter they use, that stuff was unbelievable. And their sourdough bread equally fantastic.

  9. FYI - Myer food hall in the city sells Lescure for about $6-7, so I would recommend going there rather than David Jones (especially given the best-before issue).

    I only know about Sth Melb Market because I've been working nearby for the last few months - otherwise it's totally out of my way, too.

    Apparently Bistro Vue serves real (i.e. French) butter with their bread. My mother had lunch there last month and was really impressed with the bread and butter.

  10. Eat to Live, thanks for the info. I'm in the city more often so can visit the Myer food hall rather than make a trip out to the South Melbourne Markets.

    It's amazing how good butter can taste with just bread. I sort of wish I worked in the city just so I can go to places like Bistro Vue for lunch. However, the one hour journey into the city everyday then makes me shiver.

    So how are you finding working near the city? Have you visited any good restaurants?

  11. Alas, where I work in Sth Melbourne there is nothing but for greasy spoon-style cafes in walking distance (Bay St Pt Melbourne is close, but not close enough), so eating out almost never happens! I keep meaning to try out loads of places on days off, but it doesn't happen.

  12. Eat to Live, that's bad, you have to do all the travelling towards the city without the rewards of being able to eat lunch in the city.

    I guess on your days off, you get lazy and just rather stay home. I know I do. I keep saying I will go try this and that place but usually can't be bothered getting up early on weekends to go to those places for lunch.

  13. Ah, I was spoilt. When I was younger we lived in a remote part of NSW, and made our own butter from the cream that we skimmed off the milk we got from our cow. And NOTHING compares to cooking with that butter.

    But I've read some interesting tips for which brand to buy, so might give a few a go.

  14. Anna, that butter would have been the best tasting butter of all.

    I've just gone out and bought the Girgar butter that Anh suggested. Haven't tried it yet though. I've still yet to go to Myer to get the French butter than Eat to Live suggested. I wonder how good that will be?