Butter is delicious. It makes almost any food better, whether as an ingredient during cooking or baking or a tasty add-on. But did you know that you don’t have to live with boring butter rectangles? What if I told you it was possible to have butter roses? Butter autumn leaves? Butter skulls?!?! It’s true you can mold butter into tons of shapes and it’s so easy.
Molding Butter into Shapes
Not only can you reform your butter to make a more festive or pleasing addition to your table, you should! Ok, maybe “should” is too strong a word, but it’s such a fun and easy way to add personality to your tablescape.
It’s not just fun to mold butter, it can also be very functional.
As a bonus, being able to mold your butter into any shape you choose has functional benefits – do you have an antique butter dish or dome that won’t gracefully accommodate a stick? Mold your butter into a shape and size that fits! Want to garnish your bread plates with individual servings of butter? Use smaller molds to make “pats” in all kinds of shapes!
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How to Shape Butter with Butter Molds
This is the fun part. You can use virtually any flexible silicone mold. Candy molds, soap molds, candle molds will all work as long as they are food safe.
This is an updated version of the molds I use, which you’ll see in this post. I like it because the shapes are pretty and festive without being tied to a specific event or holiday.
It’s best to start with a relatively simple shape. Look for something fairly smooth without too much surface detail.
You’ll need to practice a few times to get a feel for how hard to pack the butter into the mold. Your first rounds will likely have air bubbles or irregularities on the surface. Smoother, simpler shapes will make it easier to avoid those surface imperfections.
Here are some excellent starter molds:
Once you’ve gotten the hang of filling the molds you can move on to more intricate patters, like some of these!
How to Chose the Best Butter for Molding
Start with room temperature butter of your choosing. Butter preference is personal, so go with the butter you normally like. I personally love Kerrygold butter and it works really well in molds.
Preparing the Butter
I usually leave the butter out to soften overnight. It should be soft enough to spread easily but not so soft that it’s liquified or runny. Unwrap the butter while it’s cold and it will be easier to handle it when it’s softened.
Once your butter is completely soft, you’re ready to mold!
- Lay the mold on a flat surface like on a large plate or cutting board. Make sure the mold can lay completely flat on it and that it will fit in your freezer.
- Use a butter knife, small spatula or other tool to scoop up some of your soft butter. Work with small amounts and build up the butter in the mold.
- Press the butter into the mold. You really want to smear and smash, don’t be afraid to press the butter in firmly.
- When you believe the mold is full, tap it several times on a firm surface. This will help to break up any air pockets in the bottom of the mold.
- After tapping, see if the butter has settled – if so, good! That means you had some air in there and that you dislodged it Put more butter in the mold and tap it out again.
- Repeat that process until the butter no longer settles. With small molds, I usually stop there. With larger molds, I put a sheet of wax paper over the butter and press down very gently.
Once it’s full and you’ve tapped out the air bubbles, let it sit for a few hours on the counter. This will ensure the butter continues to settle into the mold.
Settle the mold on your plate or board and put it in the freezer for at least three hours. It’s ok for larger shapes not to be frozen clean through but small shapes will need to be completely frozen.
Once the butter is frozen, take it out. Hold the mold under hot running water for a second or two, no longer.
Gently turn the butter out onto a clean surface. Check for airholes or other imperfections. It’s best to mold extra so you have plenty of perfect pats.
Let the butter come to room temperature before serving. Nobody wants frozen butter on the table, even if it is shaped like a flower. Do be sure the room isn’t so warm the butter melts, of course.
Tips on How to Mold Butter
The butter needs to freeze thoroughly and then warm up to room temperature so it’s perfectly spreadable. You really can’t rush either part of that process, unfortunately. My advice is to mold your butter at least a few days before you need it. Give it 3-8 hours in the freezer, then unmold it.
Once unmolded, you can store it in the freezer or refrigerator without issue and it will keep as long as butter normally does.
Let the butter sit at room temp for a few hours before serving. This can be tricky. If it’s the dead of winter, make sure the butter hangs out in a warm (but not HOT) area for a few hours. In hot summer, or in a very hot kitchen, your butter will get TOO soft and all that lovely molding will be lost.
Our dining room is a pretty consistent and comfortable temperature, so I usually just put the butter on the table in the morning and let it slowly come up to temp. If I am serving my butter as individual pats on bread plates, I put those plates out in the morning, put the cold butter on them and let them stay put. The less you handle the butter, the better, since it would be very easy to blunt the details by handling it too much.
Once you get comfortable with the process, you really can do just about any shape. Keep in mind that the more undercuts (any section of the mold that has a lip or shelf) a mold has, the more challenging it will be to extract your butter without marring the shape. Practice makes perfect, and you can keep practicing on the same butter while you perfect your technique – just let it soften and then remold it. Or, you can do what I do and eat the “failures”.
Be sure to check out my post of making herb butters. Processing the butter to flavor it means it’s just right to go into a mold. Note that the integration of the herbs does mean the mold isn’t usually as smooth. But you can always gently press a few finely chopped herbs or even small flowers into the molded butter to decorate it and distract from imperfections.
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