Butter and Butter Oil

Butter is used both for its shortening and its flavour effects. It is much more expensive than other fats but there is no doubt that its flavour contribution is very substantial and desirable in biscuits. Neither butter nor butter oil is refined or chemically modified.

Butter is an emulsified mixture of milk fat, water and a small amount of protein. The normal maximum permitted water content is 16%. Butter varies in quality depending on its origins and season of the year and also on whether it contains whey cream where lactic yeast was used in its manufacture. It may be sold salted or unsalted. If salted about 1.5% of salt is normally added. The flavour and the colour of butter is affected by the diet of the cows when the milk is taken. In spring and summer when the cows eat fresh grass the butter is more yellow and is a little softer. In winter or when the cows are fed on concentrates the butter is paler in colour and may be harder. The flavour of spring butter is superior.

The flavour of butter is complimented during baking by vanilla and sugar. In the course of biscuit baking the fresh butter flavour changes to a mild toffee or butterscotch note which has both good flavour and aroma. A baked butter flavour is enhanced with minimum baking time at high temperature.

The handling of butter has become a major obstacle to its large scale use. It should be stored in cold conditions but in this state it is too hard to be used for making doughs.

Butter fat may also be purchased as butter oil without any appreciable moisture and protein. Blocks of butter oil are not normally plasticised so are much harder than butter. The flavour imparted to biscuits made from butter oil instead of butter, is much inferior so butter oil is not a popular ingredient for biscuits.

It may be possible to purchase butter that has been "denatured" with sugar. The denaturing is done to butter in "butter mountains", (butter taken from an excessive supply to control the price). The idea is to inhibit the use of this butter for normal domestic use. If the quantity of sugar added is known this can be a useful ingredient for biscuits. It is usually cheaper than real butter.