“But,” she said, “this butter’s bitter. If I put it in my batter, it will make my batter bitter. But a bit of better butter, better than the bitter butter, will but make my bitter batter better.”
Whew. Say that 10 times fast! The question this poignant children’s rhyme raises is: can a better boutique butter beat branded butter from a big box…store? So I have a ways to go on my mad rhyming skillz yo, but can a small artisinally crafted butter costing $5.59 per ice-cream scoop sized portion really be better than regular store bought butter? In a word, yes. Here’s why.
The Animal Farm in Orwell, Vermont (come on literary whizzes, put two and two together) produces the countries richest, most divine butter. Diane, the owner of Animal Farm sells her butter exclusively to the chef/gods at The French Laundry in California, Per Se in NYC, and No. 9 Park right here in Boston. Impressive pedigree. She sells her to butter to these establishments only. Nowhere else. Except now, my boss/cheese maestro/intellectual cool-guy has managed to get his paws on this renowned butter and sell it to our customers.
I spoke with the owner to explain why her product is just a better bit of butter. Most butter is made from Holstein cows that have a naturally lower fat content. Not at Animal Farm. Diane uses the culture cream of her eight Jersey cows, the bovine breed with the highest butterfat content, to hand churn an 87% butterfat butter. This gives the butter a noticeable richness that melts on your tongue let alone on a warm baguette. It’s greasy but not in a negative way. I will call it graisse, French for greasy. Now that sounds positively lush.
Diane eschews machines that separate milk, preferring instead to hand separate her milk to keep those yummy fat globules intact. She makes all of her butter in small batches so that she can handwash it (commercial creameries wash their butter in large mechanical churn which bruises and makes the butter heavy). From the cow’s mouth: “I make my product in a very labor intensive way, but it makes a superior artisanal product.” Amen.
This butter really is superior. It sticks to the tiny pores of your tongue yet at the same time is so light and effervescent. I imagine that this is what butter tasted like when Massasoit ruled the land and Pilgrims spoke of the “ye olde times” of hunting Englishmen. So can a little bit of better butter can make your bitter batter a bit better? Absolutely.