Learn how to mold butter
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?
Post your molded butter on Instagram and tag me @Hey_big_Splendor and use the #HBSButter so I can see!
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.
Check how how to mold butter, including my surefire butter molding tips and links to some of my favorite butter molds.
The end of the Boring Butter Rectangle is here! Start molding butter today.
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. When you use butter molds to customize your butter, you improve both the aesthetics and functionality of your spread.
It’s not just fun to mold butter, molded butter can also be very functional.
Being able to mold your butter into any shape has functional benefits. Do you have a 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 single servings of butter? Use small molds to make individual butter pats in all kinds of shapes.
Butter molds come in a huge range of shapes and sizes and there’s a butter mold for every occasion and taste.
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How to Use Molds to Shape Butter
In order to make butter into shapes, you’ll need butter and a flexible mold. You can use virtually any flexible silicone mold. Candy, soap, and candle molds all work for molding butter as long as they are food safe.
I’ve included links to a few of my favorite molds below, as well as tips for picking good molds for butter.
Mold Butter with a Silicone Mold
Use a flexible one-piece mold. In most cases, the one-piece mold is made from a flat sheet of silicone with an impressed design, forming a cavity. The butter is pressed into that cavity and once it sets up, retains the shape.
Since the mold is a single piece, the butter will have a flat bottom and a shaped top.
If you want to make butter shapes that are fully molded, like a freestanding Christmas tree or a turkey, you’ll need to use a two-piece mold. That’s a more advanced technique, so wait until you’re comfortable using basic silicone butter molds.
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Preparing butter for shaping
The butter needs to be soft enough to spread easily. It should very soft but not separated or melted.
Unwrap the butter while it’s cold and it will be easier to handle it when it’s softened. If your butter is too firm, put it in a bowl and smash it around with a knife or spoon. That will make the butter spreadable.
Once your butter is completely soft, you’re ready to put the butter into a mold.
Which butter is the best for molding?
The best butter is the one you like! But the higher the milkfat, the better it seems to hold a shape. Personally, I like Kerrygold butter for butter molding. It’s delicious and the texture is velvety smooth. I’ve had plenty of success with regular old store brand butter, though.
How to fill butter molds
- Lay the mold on a flat surface like on a large plate or cutting board. Make sure the plate or board will fit in your freezer.
- Use a butter knife or small spatula to scoop up some 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 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 until the butter no longer settles. Then use a sheet of parchment paper to press the butter very gently into the mold.
Setting butter into a molded shape
Once the mold is full of butter 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. If the room is over 75 degrees or under 50 degrees, skip this step.
Freezing the butter
Settle the mold on your plate or board and put the entire thing in the freezer for at least three hours. It’s ok for larger shapes not to be frozen completely but small shapes do need freeze solid.
Note that the butter can pick up any odors or flavors that may be lurking in your freezer. If you’re concerned about the butter being contaminated, put the molds into a sealed container before freezing.
How to remove butter from molds
Once the butter is frozen, take it out of the freezer. Unmold the butter immediately. First, gently wiggle the mold. Then hold the mold under hot running water for a second or two, no longer. Gently turn the butter out onto a clean surface by firmly (but carefully) pushing on each area of the mold. Check for air holes or other imperfections.
It’s best to mold extra so you have plenty of perfect specimens.
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 the butter in the freezer or refrigerator without issue. Molded butter will keep as long as butter normally does.
Let the butter sit at room temp for a few hours before serving. 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.
The less you handle the butter, the better, since it would be very easy to blunt the details by handling it too much. Ideally, turn the butter out of the mold and directly onto the serving surface.
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.
Once you get comfortable with the butter molding 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”.
Does molding butter change the flavor?
No, when you shape the butter, the flavor doesn’t change. And although the butter is molded into a shape, the texture is still the same creamy, delicious spread everyone loves. Note that if you let the butter sit out for too long in extreme heat, the butter can become rancid. Rancid butter definitely doesn’t taste good, so be sure to keep an eye on the temperature. And as mentioned above, be sure there’s no lingering odor in your freezer or refrigerator that might taint the butter.
Molding herb butters and other compound butters
Be sure to check out my post of making herb butters. Processing the butter to flavor it means it’s just the right consistency to 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. If I’m serving molded herb butter, I stick with very simple shapes.
How to choose a butter mold
Start with a relatively simple shape. Look for something smooth without too much surface detail. When you’re molding butter, it’s very important to be able to pop the molded butter out in a single, quick movement.
Keep it simple
A mold with too many undercuts could cause your butter to break. And a mold with too many small, intricate details is hard to fill completely, leading to holes in your butter. Molds with a lot of very shallow impressions on the surface are more challenging to fill completely.
The best molds for butter
- have smooth surfaces with well-defined, deeper impressions
- are relatively proportioned – they’re not significantly wider than they are deep (or vice versa)
- don’t have undercuts – areas of the mold that fold in deeply
This is an updated version of the molds I used in this post. The shapes are pretty and festive without being tied to a specific holiday. These round molds produce a butter rosette that fits in most antique butter dishes and domes.
The one-piece butter mold means you can create molded pieces in a single, easy step.
Butter molding takes practice
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.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of filling the molds you can move on to more intricate patterns.
Two-piece butter molds
If you want a fully dimensional shape, you have to use a two piece mold. Each half of the mold must be filled with butter. Use the same mold filling technique from above to fill the halves.
Assemble the two halves of the mold, using the registration mark or key to ensure the halves are in the right position. Allow 24 hours in the freezer since the mold is thicker.
To unmold, quickly run the mold under hot water, then carefully separate the halves. The butter will stay in one half of the mold – simply pop it out as though it were a one-piece.
Anything you shape in a two-piece mold will have a seam around the edges.
There is some risk the two halves won’t fully meld. And there’s a risk that opening the mold can pull the butter apart. Both of those concerns can be minimized with practice.
If you want to move onto two-piece molding, try using this mold to make a butter Death Star. Not only is it fun, the smooth shape will be easier to remove from the molds.
Post your molded butter on Instagram and tag me @Hey_big_Splendor and use the #HBSButter so I can see!
Molding butter is one of the easiest ways to upgrade and personalize your dinner table. Whether you use holiday themed butter molds or molds that compliment your china or table decor, molded butter adds a lovely finishing touch. Check out some of my other tips for upgrading your dinner party table. And make sure you’re not missing these table pieces.
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