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Dec 2, 2006 01:52 AM

Best Baking Butter

Plugra is my standard baking butter because of its higher than average fat to water ratio, but every once in a while I get the itch to try something new. Inevitably this guest butter produces a less rich, waxier result, and I reprimand myself for my wandering eye. And yet... I still wonder if there are other options out there, particularly organic ones. Or locally made. Has anyone used Ronnybrook Farm? I've tried all those organic, european style butters and they just don't cut it, but I'd love to go au natural without sacrificing quality if possible.

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  1. I like Celles Sur Belles (or something like that). The reason I get Plugra instead is that it comes in a bigger block (CsurB only comes in 1/2 lbs. or xx litres). I also love Plugra.

    1. While I'm nuts about Plugra, it *is* a tad bit pricey for a prolific home baker like myself. I've never heard of Ronnybrook Farm, but out this way we have Clover and Strauss Family Creamery, both excellent small dairies.

      1. I like Plugra for baking, but I only buy the 1 pound blocks at Trader Joe's (for 3-4 bucks); I don't think it's SO good that I'd buy it in the pricey little half-pound packages.

        Since you're in NYC I can recommend something I've only seen at Zabar's -- it's a solid 1 pound block called Beurremont 83%. It's a light yellow package with the name in green lettering. It also says in smaller type "Traditional French Butter from New England ; Beurre Grand Cru". I think they sell it for about $4.50. It's GREAT.

        The holy grail aspect of it for me is that I LIVE in New England and I can't find it anywhere. I have no idea where it's actually made (although the name suggests Vermont) ; there's not much additional info on the package (says it's distributed by Paris Gourmet in Carlstadt NJ -- I haven't been quite obsessed enough to run down that lead); and I wasn't able to get much of an answer from Zabar's about where it's from. Regardless of that, it's great stuff and worth a trip to the Upper West Side.

        The other excellent small-production local butter I've found is called Amish Country Roll Butter. This one I've only seen at a Boston-area market called Russo's; I don't know where else it's distributed. The label says it's made by the Minerva Dairy Inc. in Minerva, Ohio. (I'm not actually a butter savant, I just have the labels in front of me.) It's great butter, but quite highly salted (I've never seen an unsalted version) so you'd need to take account of that when baking. I mostly just spread it on toast but I've used it to good effect in cookies when I was out of unsalted.

        3 Replies
        1. re: MichaelB

 use the drop down menu of product categories to find butter

          1. re: MichaelB

            I assume you mean Vermont Butter & Cheese Company, which is readily available in the Boston area (Whole Foods, the two Formaggios, other fine food stores). It's the tops in US butters.


            1. re: Karl S

              Nope, totally different from Vermont Butter & Cheese (which I agree is very good butter). Check that link that librarian provided (by the way, thanks for that!) for a picture of the Beurrement package.

              This all reminds me that there was a NYTimes food section article a year or two ago about a small farmer in Vermont who sells her butter to two sources -- a local co-op (I think Brattleboro?) and to Thomas Keller for his restaurants. It sounded like great stuff. Probably wouldn't work to knock on the door at Per Se and ask for some, huh?

          2. Thank you all so much!! This is great info. I'm on the upper westside with some frequency, so Zabar's isn't an unreasonable journey. Actually, I bet I could find it at the Fairway in redhook...

            1. The decision should be dictated in part by the cookbook you're using and what information it provides. For example, Mastering the Art of French Pastry by Bugat and Healy has an excellent section on ingredients at the back in which the authors state that their recipes were normed for Land O' Lakes unsalted butter. If I were making something from that book, I would go with that butter or try to find something as close as possible to it in terms of fat and water content. I don't know of many cookbooks, however, whose authors are as thorough as Bugat and Healy were.