This Is When You Should Be Baking With Expensive Butter

If you're someone who loves the taste and texture of European-style butter, which tends to be more expensive, then you might think it'd be a great go-to for baking. And it is an excellent option, though there are some exceptions to keep in mind when choosing which butter to bake with. European-style butter has a higher butterfat content than that of regular butter in the U.S. More specifically, King Arthur Baking explains that AA butter (which is the kind with the best butter flavor) has 18% water, 80% butterfat and the rest is made up of milk solids while the butterfat content of European-style butter ranges between 82 to 86% instead. 

It's this butterfat difference that makes the two far from an easy all-purpose swap. Despite the luxurious flavor and texture, European-style butter doesn't always win out over regular AA grade butter. As it turns out, European-style butter is best for some baked goods rather than all. This is because the higher butterfat content minimizes the amount of water, which results in less steam. This can significantly change the texture of some baked goods turning them greasy and more dense, since they don't get the same rise from the water's steam in the oven.

Only use European-style butter for select baking

However, there are some baked goods that really benefit from a higher butterfat content. According to Maury Rubin, chef and CEO of The City Bakery in New York, their bakery sticks to European-style butter for things like croissants and danishes that use tons of butter for their delicate, crispy texture (via HuffPost). For other baked goods like muffins and cookies, the bakery uses a lower butterfat butter. It's all about getting the right texture and crumb in the baked goods.

Rubin also says you shouldn't splurge on using a high butterfat butter when baking for tons of people like a large get together, your whole building, or the entire neighborhood. Instead, keep the good stuff just for you and your family. Something else to consider is that high-quality, expensive butter should only be used where its flavor is really going to come through. So, avoid using it in baked goods that use plenty of sugar or flavorings that will cancel the beautiful flavor of European-style butter. Instead, save it for bread or to make high-quality pastries.