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September 13, 2006

Sweet cream butter (Recipe: lemon-currant biscotti)

This post has been updated with new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. Please click through to read the updated post.

Butter

A dairy cow weighs more than 1,000 pounds.

A butter cow — specifically, the Iowa State Fair's famous Butter Cow — weighs 600 pounds, enough butter to coat 19,200 slices of toast.

I know what you're thinking.

Salted butter, or unsalted?

(Are you really thinking that, or are you wondering, like I am, what happens to all of that butter at the end of the fair? Does the cow melt in the heat? Do cow birds eat butter? Does the Butter Cow sleep in a barn at night? Does it moo?)

Good questions. The Butter Cow is made from pure cream butter. If the cream is pasteurized, the result is called sweet cream butter, also known in my house as regular butter. If the cream is not pasteurized, the product is called raw cream butter. To both kinds, salt is added for taste, and as a bit of a preservative.

Everyone remembers, from grade-school visits to the the local farm, that butter is churned from cream. What we think of as butter comes from cow's milk, which produces the sweetest butter; in other parts of the world, butter also comes from water buffalo, camel, goat, sheep, llama, reindeer and yak. In fact, in Tibet, a host may place a bit of yak butter on the head of a guest as a gift for a happy new year.

Today's ingredient makes me wonder about how easily I'm seduced by packaging. Yes, the box is beautiful, and that's probably why Kate's Homemade Butter caught my eye in the local supermarket a few years ago, but I promise you that it's the taste that keeps me buying this particular item for my pantry.

Made by the Patry family in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, Kate's contains only sea salt and fresh pasteurized cream from cows that are not treated with growth hormones, and it's churned in small batches. The butter is a lovely pale yellow, lacking that supernatural glow that comes from artificial food coloring. It also lacks the harsh salty taste of many commercial brands; the sea salt provides a gentle enhancement to the inherent flavor of the sweet butter.

Whole Foods and other local markets carry Kate's here in New England. If you can't find it, look for farm-fresh, small-batch butters in your supermarket. They cost more, but they're worth it.

Lemon-currant johnnycake biscotti

I named these after the local Rhode Island cornmeal used to make johnnycakes, which are a kind of thin pancake. Of course you can substitute white or yellow stoneground cornmeal for the Kenyon’s, or use the same recipe to make orange-cranberry biscotti. Makes 20 cookies.

Ingredients

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Zest of 2 large lemons
Juice of 1 lemon
2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Kenyon’s stoneground (white) cornmeal
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup currants

Directions

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice, and beat until combined. Add flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt, and beat until combined. Stir in the currants.

Turn the dough onto a very lightly floured countertop and bring together in a ball. The dough will be sticky, but carry on! Divide dough in half, and place each half on the baking sheet, a few inches apart. Pat each half into a log approximately 10 inches long, 2 inches wide, and 1 inch high. (You may need to wet your hands to keep the dough from sticking.) Place baking sheet in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the logs start to turn golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and, with a wide spatula, transfer logs to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes.

Using a very sharp non-serrated knife, slice each log into 3/4-inch slices, and place slices on their side on the baking sheet. They will not expand, so the slices can be placed 1/4 inch apart. There will be some crumbling, because of the cornmeal in the dough. Don’t worry – let them crumble! Return biscotti to the oven and bake until golden brown on top, about 20 minutes. Turn the biscotti over, and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until the biscotti are brown and crisp.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

Comments

Oh Lydia, you've waded into heated controversy. No matter what Kenyon types, it's 'jonnycake'. Just ask us old RI Swamp Yankees. Or....quoting from an old booklet I have (Rhode Island Indian Corn Meal: Ambrosia of the Gods) , "The Rhode Island jonny-cake is unique - in a class by itself. Let us adhere to our own etymology, namely; journey cake, which abbreviated to "jo'rny cake", in the vernacular of the time, was pronounced "jarney-cake" and finaly the spelling changed to fit the pronunciation and we have JONNYCAKE. So, as far as Rhode Island is concerned, not even by an Act of Congress can an "H" be forced into that word." There is more, listing etymalogical citations, but I'll spare you.
There are a few recipes in this booklet and here is one I like:

Toads
1 cup RI corn meal
1 cup flour
1 egg
1 cup milk
2 ts baking powder
2 tbs sugar OR
1/4 cup molasses

Mix thoroughly in order given and drop from teaspoon into very hot deep fat.

There is a Society for the Preservation of the RI Jonnycake. They published a wonderful cookbook and I'll try to dig up my copy.
Of course the best 'recipe' is plain jonnycakes....again great subject of debate between the thin ones and thick ones.
But, of course they are all delicious....and how wonderful that you provided a delightful twist with an old standby. I think my grandmother would have loved it! I know I will.

(I told you my pantry was full of cornmeal.)

These Biscotti are THE BEST! Drop everything and get these in the oven!

Ah, I knew the "h" controversy would arise. Actually I created this recipe for a blogging by mail swap, and originally had spelled it with no "h", then reconsidered because I included a package of Kenyon's with the recipe and thought it would be confusing....so thanks for setting us straight. And for the recipe for Toads!

agh, I'm all set to make these and have no salted butter in the pantry. Can I use unsalted, and if so should I increase the 1/2 tsp. sea salt?
Thanks.

Marcia, I don't think you'll need to increase the salt, but taste the dough as you go along. The salt brings out the flavor of the lemon, so adding a bit extra lemon zest might do the trick.

And invite me for tea, eh?

Thanks!
If they turn out, you're invited.
well, you're invited anytime, treats or no.
Stay tuned!

What an intriguing post! I've recently been thinking more and more about butter as I read more about European-style butters, which, as far as I can tell, are not easily available.

I basically use what you referred to as "regular butter". But I'd love to give this one a try. Great recipe!

Candy, I dropped everything today and got them in the oven.
Ivonne, it is a great recipe; so delicious and fun to make. What is Euopean style butter? Someone one once gave me goat butter from ??France. I didn't know what to do with it.
Lydia. This biscotti is a knockout. I rate it right up there with the turkey escarole soup!

Here is a very buttery recipe from the Friends of the Wellesley Free Libraries cookbook. It's divine, and perfect for early fall days.

Cake:
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp. vannila extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Filling:
4 rounded tsp. sugar
1 cup chopt nuts
1 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 to 2 cups sliced apples and cranberries.

Cake:
Cream together butter and sugar; beat in eggs, one at a time. Add sour cream, vanilla, and almond extract, and mix well. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt, and add to creamed mixture.
Filling:
Coming sugar, chopt nuts, and cinnamon, and set aside.

Spoon 1/3 batter into greased and floured 10 " tube pan. Sprinkle with half the filling mixture and add about half the fruit. Cover with 1/3 of the batter. Spoon on the remaining filling and fruit, and cover with remaining batter.
Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

Marcia, this cake recipe looks fabulous! Did you try it with the Kate's butter, and if so, was it creamier or sweeter than with other butter? Thanks so much for sharing another wonderful recipe.

Lydia, I did use the Kate's butter and I didn't notice if it was sweeter ...there's alot of sugar in that recipe. It might have been creamier..everyone who tasted it cried, "Butter" at first bite.

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About The Perfect Pantry®

  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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