Western Star Butter Hints & Tips
Forgotten to soften the butter for a cake?
Grate butter coarsely, spread onto baking paper and stand for 10 minutes before using or chop into 2cm cubes, microwave on 30% power in 10 second bursts until just softened.
Why did my cake crack on top?
This is probably because the oven temperature was too high, causing the cake to form a crust on top before it rises. As the cake cooks and rises internally, it bursts through the crust causing cracks.
Why do I need to use caster sugar when making cakes?
Cake recipes usually call for caster sugar because it has the perfect crystal size for producing light fluffy cakes. Ordinary A1 sugar or raw sugar crystals are too large and won’t dissolve well in the cake mixture, resulting in a spotty and crunchy cake crust. Icing sugar is too fine and will not hold any air in a creamed butter-sugar mixture. Sometimes for a rich caramel flavour, some of the caster sugar can be substituted for brown sugar.
Why did my cake peak on top?
There are a few things that can cause cakes to peak in the centre. If the cake recipe doesn’t contain enough liquid it will be low in volume but will peak in the centre. If the cake has been over mixed you will notice a peak, along with tunnel like holes inside the cake. It could also be that the oven temperature was too high, causing the outside of the cake to form a crust too quickly, as the mixture in the cake centre continues to cook and rise it bursts through the top of the cake.
Can I substitute some of the melted butter for milk or juice when baking?
Never alter the butter ratio when baking, baking is a science and when you alter the recipe you will get a very different result in both flavour and texture. Butter can’t be substituted for liquid ingredients. Depending on the recipe, you may end up with either a tough, dry cake or it may be soggy and dense.
Why should I preheat my oven?
Oven temperature is crucial when baking as baking is a science! Having the oven at the right temperature when the cake goes in will ensure that the natural chemical reactions that occur during baking happen at the correct times to produce an even result. If a cold oven is used, a baked item will not rise at the rate it should causing cakes to have many faults, including:
- heavy textured crumb
- reduced volume
- dry end result
- sunken centre
- sugary crusted cakes
What does it mean to “cream butter and sugar” and how do I do it?
Creaming butter and sugar is a method used to incorporate air into baked goods. There are a few key things to remember when creaming butter and sugar.
- The butter must be soft, but not melting.
- It’s always best to use caster sugar.
Use an electric mixer to beat butter until smooth, gradually add the sugar 2 tablespoons at a time waiting 30 seconds between additions. Continue beating for 7-10 minutes or until the mixture is a very pale, off-white colour and fluffy in texture. Rub a small amount of the mixture between your thumb and forefinger, if you feel large sugar crystals then continue beating, if they have dissolved then the mixture is ready and you can continue the recipe.
What is the secret to making fluffy white buttecream icing?
Always wondered why some buttercream icing is fluffy and soft and some are thick and dense? While the ratio of ingredients is key, the technique is also important. Ensure the butter is soft before starting and beat for at least 7-10 minutes in total until the mixture is as pale as double cream and fluffy. Don’t refrigerate the butter cream, as this will cause it to become hard and dense. Once your cake is iced it should keep unrefrigerated in a cool, dark place for 2-3 days.
Which butter should I use for each different type of baking?
Sweet baking — Always use Western Star Unsalted Butter for sweet baking such as shortcrust or butter cakes. The salt in regular butter can have an impact on the rise and texture of the baked goods, often making them drier.
Caramel and Chocolate Baking — Surprisingly the flavour of caramel and chocolate is enhanced by a pinch of salt. When making caramel slice, or chocolate biscuits try using Western Star Lightly Salted or regular butter instead of unsalted.
Savoury Baking — Use Western Star Chef’s Choice Cultured Unsalted Butter which has a slight savoury flavour or Western Star Lightly Salted Butter, the light salt will give flavour but also ensure you baking is moist and tender.
How to line and cake tin
- Smear the inside of the tin all over with Western Star Unsalted Butter.
- Cut long strips of baking paper slightly taller than the height of the tin, fold 1cm up from the longest edge and snip along the edge at 1 cm intervals.
- Press strips onto the sides of the tin like a collar, with the snipped edge on the bottom (this will help hold the collar down)
- Trace the base of the tin onto a sheet of baking paper, cut out and press into the base of the tin.
How to test a cake to see if it’s cooked:
- First you will notice a cooked cake has slightly shrunken from the edge of the pan.
- Touch the centre of the cake with your fingertip, it should be firm and slightly bounce back, if you finger mark remains then continue cooking.
- Thirdly, if necessary, poke a skewer into the thickest part of the cake, slowly draw it out, if it is coated with uncooked mixture then continue cooking, if the skewer is clean your cake is cooked.
To evenly slice a cake in half to fill or ice, insert toothpicks at equal points into the sides of the cake and use them as the guide for your knife, you’ll get an even result every time!
- To perfectly ice a cake with butter cream, dollop all of the icing into the centre of the cake, and use a flat edged metal spatula to gently spread it out to the edges in a thick layer. Avoid touching the cake with the spatula to prevent crumbs.
- To stop the pastry from shrinking when making pastry cases it’s important to let the dough rest for 30 minutes before rolling and then refrigerate for a further 15 minutes before baking. Another trick is to line the pastry case with aluminium foil extending it up and over the sides and pushing right up into the corners before filling with baking weights.
- When rubbing butter into flour for scones, its best to use cold butter. It’s easiest to do this in the food processor, but if doing it by hand try coarsely grating the butter into the bowl of flour first, this makes it much quicker to rub in with your fingertips.
- To achieve best results when baking, have all you ingredients are at room temperature, this ensures they are incorporated into the batter more evenly and that the mixture bakes at an even temperature.
- When next making pizza dough make double and bake this delicious dessert pizza. Roll out the dough, brush with butter, sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon and top with berries and almonds. Bake as you would a normal pizza and serve with ice cream.
- When pressing a crushed biscuit/butter cheesecake base into a tin, use a glass tumbler to press the mixture firmly into the base of the tin. If lining the sides as well, start pressing the mixture from the centre of the tin, and slowly work your way up the edges.
- When buttering a cake tin its handy to use the leftover Western Star butter wrapper which will have a little bit of softened butter left on it! If you are flouring the tin, place 2 tablespoons of flour into the buttered tin and tap to light dust with flour, tap out the excess flour.
- To accurately measure dry ingredients, shake the ingredient into a measuring cup, tap once on the bench and then level the top with a butter knife. When measuring wet ingredients, use a measuring jug and rest on a flat surface, check at eye level for accuracy.
- When freezing cakes, it is recommended to freeze before icing. Ensure that the cake is well wrapped as much air as possible is expelled from the wrapping before freezing. Cakes will thaw best in the refrigerator overnight, or at room temperature.
- Try this delicious coconut topping next time you make a cake. Combine 40g butter with 2 tablespoons honey in a saucepan and heat until combined, stir in 1 cup shredded coconut or flaked almonds. Spread topping over cake approximately 20 minutes before the end of cooking time and continue cooking as usual.