Brown Butter - what is it? How do you make it? And why use Brown Butter in Baking?
Brown Butter is exactly what it says it is, butter that is brown. But how and why do you make it brown?
Brown butter is butter that has been melted and cooked until the water has evaporated and the milk solids have toasted and caramelised and become nutty and delicious. It's not a difficult process, and it surprises me that as simple as it is, why do not more people do it? I guess it might have something to do with it taking a little extra time. Time that a lot of people may think they don't have.
However, if you're thinking you can't be bothered to take a few minutes to brown butter you are seriously missing out. The extra nutty notes it brings to many bakes is well worth the extra effort.
What actually happens to butter when you brown it?
As you melt the butter the milk solids will be heavier and naturally fall to the bottom of the pan. The heat from the pan will then start to toast the solids giving them a distinct nutty flavour. The process of toasting the solids is the same as when you sear meat (or brown it). It gives it a great caramel, toasty taste.
How to Brown Butter
Browning your butter is a really simple process. Simply place your butter in a heavy bottom pan and melt on medium heat. Once the butter is melted cook on a low/medium heat. Swirl it round or stir it every so often, to stop it burning. After 10-15 minutes, maybe sooner, you will have a glorious, nutty colour butter.
Be careful through it doesn;t take long for it to go from Brown to Burnt so keep a check on it. Because no-one wants to be using burnt butter in their baking.
Once its browned pour it into a bowl, along with all the toasty bits at the bottom, and leave to cool down.
How to Use Brown Butter in Baking
Brown Butter really elevates the flavour in many bakes and dishes. There is lot online about how it can make your savoury dishes better, but how about your bakes? It tastes great in anything nutty, toffee flavoured or with caramel tones. For example you can use it in Cookies, Blondies, Banana Bread, Coffee and Walnut Cake, Toffee Cake, Brown Sugar Sponge, Gingerbread etc etc.
Brown Butter can be used either in it's liquid form, or you can leave it to solidify. It really depends on what the recipe you're using it in calls for. It can be kept in the fridge for a few days in an airtight container if you don't need to use it all straight away.
Replenish the Moisture!
One very important thing to remember, however, is you have cooked all the moisture out of it. Butter is mainly fat, but it also has a small amount of water in it. When you brown it you will evaporate that water. So if you swap out your normal butter for brown butter, like for like, you will actually be removing some of the moisture from the recipe, which may result in a dry or crumbly bake.
Therefore, I always add 10% more moisture back into the bake in the form of water, milk or cream, depending on what the recipe will suit best. So for example if you're using 100gms of brown butter, add 10gms (or 2 teaspoons) of liquid.
Brown Butter may take a little while to do, but seriously, if you want to up the flavour in some of your favourite cakes, I highly recommend it.
For other information about ingredients, check out my post 'Cakes Essential Ingredients'.
If you'd like to enjoy recipes made with Brown Butter try: Grasmere Gingerbread.