Thank you Kokopuffs and Dilbert
Originally Posted by kokopuffs
You might do well in reading about cakes and genoises in Ruhlman's RATIO and KA's BAKER'S COMPANION. They offer some explanation. Strictly imho butter at room temp. will impart some "solid" structure to your cake and would be less liable to collapse, imho, than when it's in liquid form. In liquid form therefor heated, the melted butter may prematurely 'cook' the eggs.
In some instances butter at room temp is creamed therefore has air incorporated into it which is something that can't be achieved using melted butter. And then sometimes either eggs or flour or both are then incorporated into the creamed butter which results in a light, fluffy texture.
I don;t have either book, unfortunately.
However, when i fold in melted butter, i always am sure to cool it first. So i doubt it will cook the eggs (anyway, what i'm talking about is at the VERY END of the mixing, where flour,sugar, eggs, liquid, etc, are all in there, then at the very last step, i fold in the softened mayonnaise-consistency butter instead of the melted cooled butter. My impression (which may be wishful thinking, i don't know, it's not like i make two cakes at once and comparing) is that the texture is - let's say "creamier" - whether in muffins, a cake or in pancakes. There is definitely no air in either form of butter, since it was not beaten in at all, just folded quickly at the end.
(And to address a prior point someone made, the water content is always the same in both cases, and anyway, that little water isn't going to make a difference).
One hypothesis is that the soft butter hardens faster and remains more buttery? but not in the sense of flakiness
Originally Posted by Dillbert
>>answer the actual question?
yes, no, and a definite perhaps.
Shirley Corriher in Cookwise outlines the role of fats and how different kinds of fats affect (in this specific case) cakes. the information is not summarized in the fashion of your question, so gathering "the answers" is a bit of a hit & miss.
a major point she makes: baking powder / baking soda actually does a large part of it's leavening by mixing with the fat and expanding microscopic air bubbles "already in the fat" - now - that applies nicely to "shortenings" - but butter and lard and oils have no "already there air bubbles"
whence the idea of creaming together the butter & sugar - that "aerates" the butter.
softer butter "aerates" better than hard/colder butter .
none of which addresses the issue of when to fold in softened butter..... this isn't the question - see below
I can make a guess, but that's all it is....
my drop biscuit recipe uses chilled butter "cut into" the flour pre-liquid add. it's theory is to "make flaky" - created by pockets of water bursting with the heat of baking (same idea as flaky pie crusts and puff pastry....) if mixed too thoroughly, does one get tiny tiny pockets? this sorta' goes with the biscuit au beurre idea.
pancakes & muffins don't strike me as a "need to be flaky" thing. the fat is perhaps more just for moist & tender ?
I have Cookwise - but as you say, it doesn;t really answer MY question.
It's not about the air, since neither method i mention creates air in the butter.
and the question is not WHEN to fold in softened butter, but what difference does softened butter make as opposed to melted butter.
and chilled butter, in biscuits or brisee is rubbed into the dry flour. It makes flakes, i presume (my guess, but it's logical enough) the flour coats flattened bits of butter. The liquid (water in the case of brisee, or buttermilk in the case of biscuits) mixes with the flour coating to make paste and when cooked, the butter melts out, while the paste cooks (and they are very thin sheets of paste) so you get flakes of paste with a bit of space between them.
But the biscuit au beurre is NOT FLAKY but kind of CREAMY. Very much different from a genoise, made with the same technique using melted butter at the end instead of softened butter. I hate genoise. It's not moist, and that's why you have to put syrup in it (which for me is like making a bad cake knowing it will be bad and fixing it each time with an addition of something else, but that's just cynical me, i know everyone goes wild over genoise).
So, the question is: is it the soft butter that keeps being buttery and adds moistness or creaminess to the finished product (which melted butter does not), or is it just a coincidence, and there are some other essential differences between biscuit au beurre and genoise?
Sorry to insist - of course nobody is obliged to answer.