That question from reader Lee, and I’m glad he asked. I’m not normally one to get all choosy with ingredients. As I’ve said many times before — often to my detriment in terms of reader feedback — “good” is almost as always as good as “great” for most home baking needs. However butter is where I start to get a bit fussy. I like cultured “Euro-style” butters, especially when it comes to laminated doughs. On the one hand they perform better as they tend to have a little less moisture and are also generally firmer, with a broader melt point. That means they stay plastic longer when you’re folding your dough. On the other hand I think they have also have a better taste. The acidic tang is not only different, it reduces the “fatty” mouthfeel of the finished pastry, and that’s handy when you’re trying to fool yourself into thinking you’re consuming less fat than you actually are.
Do you need to go nuts with $10-a-pound-and-up imported butters? Absolutely not. Plugra is a very nice domestically-produced cultured butter that won’t break the bank. When I’m feeling flush I buy Lurpak, I love its flavor and it’s not a total budget buster either.
All that said, homemade laminated dough made with Land-O-Lakes will still put any mass-produced puff pastry or croissant dough to shame. If it’s your first time out making laminated dough, you can even buy private label butter from the supermarket — you’ll still be amazed with the results.