Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I love butter, part 1.

I had ten pounds of butter in my refrigerator not too long ago -- let's say, three weeks ago. I now have my last pound of butter sitting on the counter "coming to room temperature", even though my kitchen is so cold that it will barely yield to a poke when I wake up in 7 hours. It's been cakes and pies and cookies and buttercreams since Halloween, and there's no sign of it letting up until after Christmas. And even for a few days after, I'm sure that, even despite my complete exhaustion from baking, I'll feel possessed to unload all combinations of fat-sugar-flour on my siblings because how often do I really see them, right?? And how often do I have a house of people at the ready to dig into whatever comes out of the oven? Not so often. I cherish these opportunities.

So I'll be back at the market soon, with five bricks of butter cradled in the crook of my left arm, and probably holding a quart of heavy cream in the other hand. I think about what other shoppers must think, watching me juggle a glut of fat down the aisles. I'd probably want to throw up at the sight of this as an outsider, but so go the holidays. This marathon baking impedes my life in every which way, but I wouldn't want it any different. This time of year demands baked goods and I am happy to provide even when I have to wake up at 5:30am for the fifth day in a row to do so.

Luckily this week's Tuesday's With Dorie selection by Bungalow Barbara of sables is not just a deliciously buttery cookie, but a perfect addition to my holiday cookie assortment as well. I only baked off a dozen of these (and probably coated it a little too generously with egg yolk) so the rest of them will make an appearance in a couple weeks.

As a shortbread-style cookie, the butter really shines so it is important to use good butter. When you take a bite, you'll notice it has the perfect amount of salt to enhance the flavor of the butter and a not-quite-crumbly, but not-quite-soft texture that make eating just one cookie a major test in self-control and leaps and bounds more appealing than those crunchy Danish butter cookies in the blue tins (which I actually love -- memories, you know). I painted a bit too much egg yolk around the perimenter and perhaps left them in the oven a hair too long, but they were still sublimely delicious and melted on the tongue.

A log and a half sit in my freezer, eagerly waiting to be baked off and soon, two more batches of this dough will join them. It's hard to resist getting up every five minutes to shave a sliver off the log, but if I can hold off and wait for the cookies to bake and cool, the payoff will be worth it for me as well as everyone else in my life.