Friday, July 28, 2017

A Butter/Margarine Post

I grew up in a house that almost entirely used margarine. Let's get that out in the open right away.

I grew up in a small town in South Dakota. I had friends in school who grew up on dairy farms. I know where butter comes from and how to make it from milk. But, in the house when I was growing up, we pretty much never had butter - we had margarine.

We had tubs of margarine in the fridge. We had sticks of margarine for baking (or for making Kraft Macaroni & Cheese).

And, well, that's what I use in about 90% of my baking as an adult (Blue Bonnet, to be exact). Except... well... I occasionally bake for people who are allergic to soy - which is typically the first ingredient in margarine.

This week, I was baking to send some soy-free (and gluten-free) cookies to work with Christopher, and decided to work with a sugar cookie recipe that uses two cups of "shortening." The recipe says that you can use either butter or margarine for half of that, but that you should use actual vegetable shortening for the other half.

No worries. Butter and Crisco. I had both of those. But... yeah... Crisco's first ingredient is soy-based.

So, for the first time ever (and the second - but that's another allergy-related story involving moving too fast and grabbing the wrong flour), I made the cookies with all butter.

The version of the recipe I was working with has lemon and lavender in it, and I worked with the same ratios I always do, figuring that the butter shouldn't alter the flavor enough to muck up the other flavors.

Yeah. I was wrong.

Now, don't worry too much - the cookies still came out really well. They're just so... buttery.

I know. Many of you are probably thinking "Really buttery sugar cookies? What is he complaining about?" But, while I was expecting the nice background of the sugar cookie side by side with the lemon and lavender, the additions kind of got swamped by the butter.*

And the cookies - though they came out of the oven just fine - feel a little odd when you bite into them (compared to how they've been for the previous decades of my life).

I've heard stories about people who avoid sugar for a few weeks and then find that anything sweetened seems too sweet after a while, because they're just not used to it any more. I'm guessing this is my issue with the butter - I'm just not around it enough.

Will I make them this way again? Sure - if I'm baking for someone who can't do soy.

Otherwise, I'm sticking to the margarine and Crisco.

*Yes, in batch two - the actual gluten-free batch - I did up the ratios of lavender and lemon. And they tasted a little closer to what I'm used to. Still not quite right, but much closer.

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