SWEET PEOPLE: Crystal Rice and Michael Chinn might fool you.
I vividly remember the first time I brought homemade cupcakes to the office. They were vanilla, filled with homemade caramelized pineapple compote (with lots of butter and brown sugar), and topped with maraschino cherry buttercream. I was nervous. Would people like them?
Cienna Madrid bit into one and cried out, through a mouthful of cake, "Oh my god, you can taste the butter!"
I felt so accomplished! As a baker, I want people to taste each element of whatever I make. Cupcakes shouldn't taste like buttercream-topped sugar bombs, they should have layers of flavors—pineapple, cherry, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, salt, and, of course, butter.
Butter—obviously delicious, and celebrated at borderline obnoxious levels—is a crucial part of the science behind many different pastries. Because it's about 80 percent fat to 20 percent water (many butter replacements like shortening are 100 percent fat), baking with butter can put fat into a pastry without making it too greasy. And how integral is fat in baking? Very. Have you ever had a low-fat cookie or piecrust? They're generally textural nightmares. Blech. Butter is the best!