Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Beating Butter.

I am sure I have neglected butter in my posts (but not in my real life, I assure you) over the last five years. I intend to try to remedy that situation, starting right now.

Many folk think margarine is an acceptable substitute for butter. I am not one of those folks, for two reasons that come to mind immediately. One is that I feel vaguely uneasy about margarine – a feeling summed up nicely by the quotation (attributed to Joan Gussow) “As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists.” This logic may have nothing at all to do with scientific evidence - it is a logic which perhaps proves that that butter is an emotional concept as well as a physical fact. The other reason is more pragmatic. Butter tastes better.

I give you a recipe from the famous Hannah Glasse. A recipe that makes me enormously grateful that I live in the era of electric beaters, not the good old days of beating by hand (literally.)

Butter Cake.
You must take a dish of butter, and beat it like cream with your hands, two pounds of fine sugar well beat, three pounds of flour well dried, and mix them in with the butter, twenty-four eggs, leave out half the whites, and then beat all together for an hour. Just as you are going to put it into the oven, put in a quarter of an ounce of mace, a nutmeg beat, a little sack or brandy, and seeds or currants, just as you please.
The Art of Cookery, made plain and easy; Hannah Glasse, 1747

Quotation for the Day.
Eat butter first, and eat it last, and live till a hundred years be past.
Old Dutch proverb


Cherubrokker said...

People actually used to beat butter by hand without a utensil? How could you beat butter into a cream? Like you I am so happy for electric beaters!

The InTolerant Chef ™ said...

Put out a dish of butter and a dish of margarine side by side outdoors, and wait and see which one the flies land on to eat. You can't fool them.

Oldskool said...

You, and prophetically decades before, the Frugal Gourmet, are both wise to follow your gut instinct. Given that most margerines nowadays have hydrogenated oils, what little cholesterol there is in butter PALES in comparison to the health risks caused by said margerines.