Butter trends through the decades

Rita DeMontis, Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:49 AM ET

Baking trends come and go, and then come back again. Like the use of butter in savoury and sweet recipes. “When it comes to baking, it always comes back to quality butter,” says Marcy Goldman, cookbook author and founder of BetterBaking.com.


“From the bundt cakes of the 1960s to the sinfully decadent desserts of the 1980s to today’s popular cupcake trend, butter is one ingredient that’s remained unchanged and gives all baked goods a rich taste.”

For 50 years, Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Ltd. has provided a vital link between Ontario dairy farmers and consumers across Canada. It is Ontario's largest dairy co-operative, owned and operated by over 1,200 dairy farmers – roughly 26% of the dairy farms in Ontario.

Established in 1958 to process and market milk-related food products for the co-operative's members, today Gay Lea Foods processes approximately 15% of Ontario's milk and enjoys a respected position as a major contributor to the success of Ontario's and Canada's dairy industries.

This year, 2008, marks Gay Lea’s 50th anniversary and five decades of bringing Ontarians the best the industry has to offer. Over the years, its innovative products have created new trends in the Canadian marketplace.

But the one product that continues to stand on its own merit is butter - the baking basic that will never go out of style. “Our family of cooperative farmers has produced the finest quality butter for generations. To celebrate our golden anniversary, we are taking a look back at 50 years of baking and some of our member families’ fondest baking memories,” says Janis Coburn, marketing manager of Gay Lea Foods. “Our members are the heart of the Gay Lea cooperative, and are the reason we’re here celebrating this milestone,” adds Coburn. “We’re delighted to share the recipes that are closest to some of our own members’ hearts – both then and now.”

Here's a look at some popular recipe trends throughout the ages:

1960s: Bake sales and butter

On the heels of the “Fat Fifties” came the “Rebellious Sixties”, a time of fancy coffees, fondue, gourmet food and fine cuisine. Sales of domestic home appliances continued to thrive and bake sales were still the norm. This period was also a time of greater product information and in 1961, the newly renamed Canada’s Food Guide was launched.

1970s: Farm fresh goodness

A growing interest in health and fitness emerged and interest in “natural” foods blossomed. The number of television chefs and cooking schools grew, as did a revived interest in Canada’s culinary heritage, leading to a growing number of farmers’ markets. With an emphasis on homegrown produce and natural ingredients, squares and bars made with granola, butter and fruit were a suburban staple.

1980s: Indulgence abounds

The ‘80s marked the peak of indulgence for bakers as home entertaining and decadent desserts reigned supreme. Even everyday baked goods like cookies got an indulgent makeover and “cookie swaps” grew in popularity.

1990s: Light and fresh

In the economic recession of the early ‘90s, Canadians resorted to a back-to-basics approach to baking. As they embraced the social phenomenon called “cocooning” – staying in and enjoying prepared comfort foods – low fat ruled grocery lists. Although bakers made convenience and speed a priority, they wouldn’t sacrifice taste. Fresh, local ingredients flourished, and simpler, and healthier desserts emerged.

2000s: Global influence and real food

Since the beginning of the new millennium, Canadians have been enjoying exotic flavours and a resurgence in real food. From the slow food movement to the 100-mile food trend, real ingredients like quality butter are now having an impact on baking habits. In addition, nostalgic recipes from the past are making a comeback, so it’s not surprising to see that cupcakes, a culinary delight for generations, have re-emerged as a star dessert.

Here's a handful of recipes courtesy of Gay Lea that shows butter's resilience throughout the years:

1970s: Elaine’s Date Squares

A favourite family recipe from Gay Lea member Elaine Vanden Hengel of Seaforth, Ontario.

Filling:

  • 2 cups (500 mL) Packed pitted dates (10 oz/300g)
  • 2 tbsp (25 mL) Packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) Lemon juice
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) Vanilla

Topping and Base:

  • 2 cups (500 mL) Rolled oats (preferably not instant)
  • 1 cup (250 mL) All purpose flour
  • 1 cup (250 mL) Packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) Baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) Cinnamon (optional)
  • Pinch Salt
  • 1 cup (1 mL) unsalted butter, softened

Filling: In heavy bottomed saucepan, combine dates and sugar and 1 cup (250 mL) water. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring and mashing dates slightly, for 20 minutes or until thick and jamlike. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Lightly grease 8-inch (2L) or 9-inch (2.5L) square baking pan or line with parchment paper.

In large bowl combine oats, flour, sugar, soda, cinnamon (if using) and salt. Add butter, crumbling with fingertips until crumbly and well blended. Pat half of mixture into bottom of prepared pan. Spread date filling evenly over. Sprinkle remaining oat mixture evenly over top.

Bake in centre of oven for about 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Cool completely in pan on rack. Cut into bars.

Makes 16 squares.

Variation: Replace water with orange juice and 1 tbsp (15 mL) grated orange rind.

Variation: Blueberry Squares. Omit date filling. In saucepan, combine 3 cups (750 mL) fresh or frozen blueberries, ½ cup (125 mL) granulated sugar and ¼ cup (50 mL) fresh orange juice to boil.

Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until tender. Whisk together 4 tsp (20 mL) cornstarch and 2 tbsp (25 mL) fresh orange juice; whisk into blueberry mixture. Bring mixture to boil and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until thickened. Cool completely; proceed as with recipe above.

1980s: Frances’ Triple Chocolate Chunk Cookies

A favourite family recipe from Gay Lea member Frances Johnston of Brampton, Ontario.

Totally decadent and bursting with chocolate, this chunky rich cookie personifies the 80s, when both chocolate and cookies came into their own.

  • 4 oz (120g) Bittersweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) Gay Lea unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) Packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) Granulated sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) vanilla
  • 1 cup (250 mL) All-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) Unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) Baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) Salt
  • 2/3 cup (150 mL) Semisweet chocolate chips 2/3 cup (150 mL) White chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) Chopped milk chocolate

Preheat oven to 325F (160C). Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In bowl, using electric beaters, beat butter for 1 minute. Add brown and granulated sugars, beating until light and fluffy. Beat in egg. Scrape down bowl. Beat in vanilla. Using wooden spoon, stir in melted chocolate. In separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt; stir flour mixture into egg mixture. Stir in dark and white chocolate chips and milk chocolate.

Using ¼ cup (50 mL) ice cream scoop for extra large cookies, scoop mounds of dough onto prepared cookie sheets. For smaller cookies, scoop out 2 tbsp (25 mL) mounds of dough. DO NOT FLATTEN. Bake in centre of preheated oven for 15-18 minutes or until edges are set, tops are crackled but centre is still moist but not wet.

Let cool on rack for 5 minutes. Using spatula, transfer to racks to cool completely. Makes 12 extra large cookies, or 30 smaller cookies.

Variation: Replace white chocolate chips with chopped macadamia nuts.

1990s: Anne’s Lightened-Up Lemon Cheesecake Pie

A favourite family recipe from Gay Lea member Anne Horsley of Shelburne, Ontario.

  • 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) Chocolate or graham wafer cookie crumbs
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) butter, melted
  • Filling:
  • 3 cups (750 mL) 1% Light Cottage Cheese, drained
  • 2/3 cup (150 mL) Granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) Freshly grated lemon rind
  • 1/4 cup (50mL) Fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) Light Sour Cream
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) Granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350F (180C).

In bowl, combine cookie crumbs and butter. Press into bottom and up sides of 9-or 10-inch (23 or 25 cm) pie plate. Bake in centre of oven for about 15 minutes or until firm. Cool slightly.

In food processor or blender, process cottage cheese with sugar, lemon rind and juice until smooth.

Add eggs; process until well blended. Pour lemon mixture into prepared crust. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until set. Cool on rack; transfer to fridge to cool completely.

Stir together sour cream and sugar; spread over cooled cheesecake.

Makes 12 servings.

Variation: Omit lemon juice from pie. Peel 1 large mango (or 2 small) and cut flesh off; in food processor, puree until still somewhat chunky. Spread over cooled crust before pouring on cheese layer.

Anniversary Buttercream Cupcake:

Nothing beats a a good old-fashioned buttercream- topped cupcake. This one, along with the following buttercream icing, was created to celebrate Gay Lea's 50th anniversary.

  • 1/2 cup (125mL) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (250mL) granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp, (10mL) vanilla
  • 1-1/2 cups (375mL) all purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. (7mL) baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. (2mL) salt
  • 1/4 tsp. (1mL) baking soda
  • 2/3 cup (150mL) regular or low fat sour cream

Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

In large bowl using electric beaters, beat butter for 1 minute. Gradually beat in sugar; beat for 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Using wooden spoon, alternately stir flour mixture and sour cream into butter mixture, making three additions of flour and two of sour cream.

Spoon into prepared muffin cups, filling about three quarters full. Bake in centre of oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until cake tops spring back when lightly pressed. Transfer to rack for 5 minutes Remove cupcakes to rack; let cool completely.

Makes 12 cupcakes.

Anniversary Buttercream Icing:

  • 2/3 cup (150mL) unsalted butter, very soft
  • 2-1/2 cups (625mL) icing sugar, sifted
  • 3 Tbsp. (45mL) approx. milk

In large bowl, using electric mixer, beat butter for 30 seconds. Very gradually, add icing sugar on low speed, adding enough milk in between additions to achieve spreading consistency.

Makes 2 cups (500 mL).

Buttercream Cake Batter Variations:

Lemon or Orange: Stir 2 Tbsp (25 mL) finely grated lemon/orange rind and 2 tbsp (25 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice or thawed (but not diluted) orange juice concentrate into sour cream to add alternately with flour mixture.

Chocolate: Stir 3 Tbsp (45 mL) melted and slightly cooled unsweetened chocolate into egg mixture before adding flour and sour cream

Mocha: Dissolve 2 tsp (10 mL) espresso or coffee granules in hot water. Add to egg mixture with vanilla. Stir 3 tbsp (45 mL) melted and slightly cooled unsweetened chocolate into egg mixture before adding flour and sour cream

Marble: Divide batter in half. Fold 3 Tbsp (45 mL) unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted into one half of batter. Fill muffin cups alternately with vanilla and chocolate batter. Swirl two batters together.

Spice: Add 1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon, ½ tsp (2 mL) nutmeg and pinch cloves to flour mixture.

Candy Bits: Add 1/3 cup (75 mL) chopped candy coated chocolates (i.e. Smarties) to flour mixture.

Buttercream Icing Variations:

Lemon Buttercream: Add 2 tbsp (25 mL) finley grated lemon rind, 2 tbsp (25 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice and ½ tsp (2 ml) lemon extract to master buttercream.

Orange Buttercream: Add 2 tbsp (25 mL) finely grated orange rind and 2 tbsp frozen concentrated orange juice (thawed but not diluted) to master buttercream.

Chocolate Buttercream: Add 3 oz (90g) melted and slightly cooled unsweetened chocolate to master buttercream.

Raspberry Buttercream: Add 1/3 cup (75 mL) unsweetened raspberry puree to master buttercream.

Peppermint Buttercream:  Add 3/4 tsp (4 mL) peppermint extract to master buttercream icing. Tint with green or pink food colouring if desired.

  **Courtesy Gay Lea Foods

 


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