To Make All Your Holiday Baking Shine, Use Cultured Butter

published Dec 6, 2019
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Credit: Dana Velden

As the holidays approach each year, we’re always looking for ways to improve our baking game. And there’s one very special ingredient that can make everything from basic pie crusts to voluminous cinnamon rolls even more spectacular than they already are: cultured butter.

Sure, you may have heard of the perks of using Irish butter or Amish butter, but cultured butter is an even more exciting dairy product that will elevate all of your baked goods.

What Is Cultured Butter?

Cultured butter is made with live bacterial cultures (like those found in yogurt), which makes the butter creamier and more luxurious, while also deepening its nutty, sweet, and complex flavors. While you can make your own cultured butter relatively easily at home, some butter manufacturers, such as Vermont Creamery, are also starting to sell cultured butter.

According to Adeline Druart, president of Vermont Creamery, the company cultures the cream for their butter for 20 hours; during this time, the “bacteria consumes the sugars in the cream and creates lactic acid,” which creates a more complex and interesting texture and flavor.

What’s the Difference Between Cultured Butter and Regular Butter?

In addition to having a more complex flavor, cultured butter also often has a higher butterfat content than most American-produced butters. More butterfat means that your pie crust, for example, will be flakier, richer, and more flavorful. “The higher fat gives the butter a greater elasticity,” explains Druart. For laminated dough, that means more layers in the lamination; for shortbread cookies, expect an intense buttery flavor.

What Is Cultured Butter Best For?

While we support spreading cultured butter on anything and everything, it is best used when its rich, mildly nutty flavor can really shine. Incorporate cultured butter into biscuits, scones, cookies, and of course spread it on your morning toast. But for recipes that are less dependent on a particular texture or buttery flavor, go ahead and use regular butter.