Butter has long been the premium choice for producing pastries such as Danish and croissants. Its inclusion has consistently delivered characteristically light and airy crumbs with beautifully flaky crust. Once considered a delicacy, pastries have now become innocuous in our everyday lives. Once requiring a skillful hand to sculpt and bake pastries are now produced in mass to satisfy the demands of local coffee shops and grocery stores. Mass producing such fragile items comes requires precise equipment and consistent ingredients. Butter making upwards of third of the ingredients by weight has also seen technological advances in its production. The advent of the continuous churn has reduced variation in composition and quality in butter. As control of butter quality has risen so have the expectations of bakers creating a market for specialty butter. Bakers have traditionally sought out high fat butter often referred to as European style. There are also new entries in the market with value added statements designating country of origin or type of feed. This research has been undertaken to quantify the merit of these attributes and assess their impact on both the functionality and final product.
Butter with higher fat content being the preferred ingredient amongst bakers a series of pastries were baked using butters of varying composition. Variations in butter chosen reflect parameters controlled by current industry practices and include fat content (80% and 82%) and fatty acid composition (low and high melt fractions). Butter was evaluated for its performance during the lamination process and the final product. Melting profiles of butter samples were also determined using differential scanning calorimetry. Before inclusion butter was evaluated for the ability to be manipulated without breaking under stress. Pastries, composed of the different butter samples, were tested using a texture analyzer to determine pastry strength and firmness. Final product samples were also tested for a difference in rise by measuring difference between heights of pastry after lamination and after baking. It was found that fat content influenced multiple properties of butter relevant to baking. Higher fat samples were easier to manipulate and form. Pastries produced with higher fat butter were taller and softer. Results of applying direct force to a butter sample was found to be a good indicator of performance during lamination. Physical properties associated with baking can be manipulated through fractionation. Melting point is acutely affected as well as its resistance to physical manipulation.
To investigate the difference between functional properties of commercially available butter their characteristics (butterfat, fatty acid profile, etc) were evaluated within the dough performance and finished quality of laminated pastries (height, weight). Commercial butters (n =12) were sourced from local retailers and used as the fat component in a standardized croissant dough. The dough was laminated and sheeted at approximately 12°C using the Rondo SSO615 Ecomat Floor Model Sheeter. Dough was cut and formed into croissants, proofed at 30°C for 90 min at 80% RH, and baked at 196°C for 15 min in a rotating convection oven. The butterfat content, fatty acid profiles, and melting profiles of each butter were characterized using Mojonnier method, GC-FAME, and differential scanning calorimetry, respectively. The majority of commercial butters performed acceptably (no cracks or tears) during lamination and produced finished croissants of good quality. Baking resulted in a consistent loss in moisture of four of the commercial butters produced finished pastry of low baked height. Butterfat content was not responsible for the difference in dough quality; however, increased unsaturated fat content was associated with decreased baked pastry height. When grouped as either domestic or imported there was also some differentiation. There was a significant difference in amounts of few individual fatty acids between groups. Pastries made with domestic butter were found to rise higher and have larger holes.
This research demonstrated that multiple factors impact the performance of butter in laminated products. The identification of these factors can guide current producers in how to leverage control points in butter production towards better butter for baking. Understanding how butter impacts production of pastries will also prove useful to bakers in their efforts to make the perfect pastry.