I have finally amassed all the feedback from my adventures in shortbread making and the results are all in. I had provided the volunteer taste testers with a list of short questions to try and help them decide which shortbread they liked the best. All in all I got 24 returned sheets with responses. I had separated their samples and numbered #1, #2 &; #3. The butters were: #1 - No Name Butter (from Walmart), #2 - Lactantia &; #3 was the Stirling. All butter was salted.
In the tasting notes/questionnaire I asked them to rank them in order of:
- Most Buttery Flavour
- Best Consistency/Density
- Best Overall Appearance
- General Favorite
So here are the results......(drum roll please!)
Most Buttery Flavour:
19 Chose Stirling
5 Chose the Lactancia
No one chose the No Name
15 Chose the Lactantia
8 Chose the Stirling
1 Chose the No Name
Best Overall Appearance:
16 Chose the Lactantia
6 Chose the Stirling
2 Chose the No Name
12 Chose the Stirling
11Chose the Lactancia
1 Chose the No Name
I added a Comment Section down at the bottom of the Questionnaire. Here were some of the comments:
- #3 (Stirling) was the most pale, giving the perception that initially it wasn't cooked enough
- #3 (Stirling) was the least dense and didn't have quite the "powdery" finish that is often associated to Shortbread
- #2 had the most "melt in your mouth" consistency
- #2 had the nicest baked colour to it
- #1 was the "hardest" and most brittle of the three shortbreads
As for my own observations I would add this:
If I were to bake the shortbread over again I would bake the Stirling shortbread a little bit longer to give it just a more crispier finish. I took careful measure to make sure that I mixed, baked all the shortbread identically so I could have a level baseline for comparison. Interestingly I got an extra cake of shortbread out of the Stirling batch. The dough was the most pliable of all three and I had to be careful not to handle it as much because it was literally melting in my hands.
There is no question in my mind that the Stirling butter had by far and away the best butter flavour. What I do have to question is for baking that is "butter centric" such as Shortbread etc. is this butter the best butter for me to use. Ultimately I would say that the Lactantia was better suited for this purpose.
I would like to extend my thanks to MaryLuz Mejia of Sizzling Communications & Stirling Creamery for giving me a butter education. The event held at Ruby Watchco for me was tantamount to a "linear" butter tasting where I could compared butter compounds and let my taste buds experience the difference right on my palate.
Happy Mother's Day.