Photo by Francesco Tonelli, The New York Times.
The New York Times article “Butter Holds the Secret to Cookies That Sing” by Julia Moskin is a fantastic resource for home bakers seeking the perfect holiday cookie. It talks about the importance of softening butter correctly to maximize it’s ability to hold air that will later give cookies and cakes their structure and texture. It even goes into the differences between domestic butters and imported cultured butters and features some buttery recipes, including one for Orange Butter Cookies by Amy Scherber and Toy Kim Dupree from “The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread”
Here are a few buttery tips that I found helpful:
- “butter should be creamed… for at least three minutes”
- “The best way to get frozen or refrigerated butter ready for creaming is to cut it into chunks. (Never use a microwave: it will melt it, even though it will look solid.) When the butter is still cold, but takes the imprint of a finger when gently pressed, it is ready to be creamed.”
- “For clean edges on cookies and for even baking, doughs and batters should stay cold — place them in the freezer when the mixing bowl seems to be warming up. And just before baking, cookies should be very well chilled, or even frozen hard.”