If you've ever baked a batch of scones or muffins — or rolled out a homemade pie crust — you know the dilemma of working with cold butter. From a baking science perspective, you need the butter to be very cold so that it coats the grains of flour and retains some of its shape as you make the dough. On the other hand, have you ever tried to squish and squeeze cold butter? Very frustrating. If you find yourself wrestling with cold butter a lot, there's an easier way to deal with it as long as you have a particular kitchen gadget: an egg slicer.
Egg slicers are small hand-held devices that are equipped with wires and a slotted dish-shaped bowl, used for cutting hard-boiled eggs into slices for sandwiches and crackers. Coincidentally, their thin wires are also perfect for slicing cold butter without getting your hands greasy or the butter sticking to a knife blade. All you have to do is slice chunks of butter that fit into the egg slicer to start cutting. It's the perfect tool for making buttery baked goods, and it's just as useful for cutting slices of butter for serving with foods like corn on the cob. The best part? No fingerprints.
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Sometimes You Need Very Cold Butter
Cold butter is an important ingredient in a lot of recipes because it creates a specific texture. In baked goods like muffins and scones, for instance, cold butter creates space in the dough when the butter melts and evaporates in the oven. In other recipes, like butter sauces, you need ice-cold butter to keep the mixture emulsified. Cutting butter with a knife is a little frustrating, however. If you use a chef's knife, the broad blade sticks to the butter, and you'll end up having to pull it off the blade with your hands a lot. A thin-bladed knife like you'd use for tomatoes or cheese works better, but an egg slicer is the best tool for the job.
Egg slicers are designed to make very thin, precise cuts through a hard-boiled egg using wire, not unlike wire cheese slicers. The wire design works so much better than a knife blade because there's no surface area to get stuck to the soft egg, and the same mechanism works great with sticky butter. The other nice thing about egg slicers is that you can cut several pieces of cold butter at the same time. All you have to do is cut cubes of butter about the same size as an egg, pop them into the slicer, and push the wires down.
Make More Than One Slice For Certain Recipes
Egg slicers work great to make a pile of butter pats for serving at a barbecue or for filling up a butter dish for passing at Thanksgiving. If you need even smaller pieces of butter for a recipe, however, you can use your slicer to make more than one pass. For pie crust, for example, you need to mix the cold butter with the flour until it looks like wet sand — so after you make your first pass with the egg slicer, rotate your butter slices in the egg slicer so that they're perpendicular to the first cut line and make another cut to create small cubes. If you want even smaller cuts, you can repeat that step again, or just toss your tiny butter cubes into the flour and use your hands or a fork to mix everything together. A plus to using an egg slicer is that you won't warm up your butter before it hits the flour, even if you have to make multiple cuts, which will keep your pie crust light and flaky.
Cold butter is a little more dense than hard-boiled eggs, however, so don't force your egg slicer to do too much. Frozen butter won't slice even if you force it — and worse, you could break the wires of the slicer. Make sure your butter is at refrigerator temperature before you start slicing, and you should get perfect results every time.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.