I have a confession: I am a butter convert. I used to hate it. Now, I would swim in it if I could. So did I need a Butter Bell? Short answer, Yes!
Long answer: Still yes! And if you have jumped on the sourdough making bandwagon in 2020/21 like me and many others, you’ll know that there is nothing quite like the smell of fresh bread from the oven on a wintery lockdown morning. And you will probably appreciate that slapping good old marge on it just isn’t the same.
Enter a block of salty butter: Delicious - yet difficult when wrapped in that paper or foil. I can never quite fold it up the same way again. And isn’t butter usually kept in the fridge? But why? It becomes so hard I have to do the toast shimmy to avoid ripping my toast to shreds. (The toast shimmy is where I slice off chunks of butter to melt over the toast while I wait for it to be spreadable so I slice of the next chunk and let it melt before going back to the first piece because its finally melted enough to spread. You know what I am talking about.) *side note: my mum never waited for the chunks to melt. She’d just slice off butter like cheese, and when I was a kid that’s exactly what I thought it was! I tell you, biting into thick, slices of butter that you’re expecting to be tasty cheese on top of your bread doesn’t leave a very nice taste or mouth feel. Sorry mum, but yuk.
Enter the Butter Bell. You can always have spreadable butter if you keep it in one of these. No more torn bread or waiting for your “slices” of butter to melt on your toast. They are a French invention, but apparently they are hard to buy in France now because they are handed down from generation to generation - so no need to sell them. Most butter bells must be over 100 years old, if not more! How cool is that?
“Thats all great Adele, but I still don’t know what it is” I hear you say. Well, it is a container that holds your butter to sit on your bench, rather than in the fridge. It won’t melt or go off because there is a pool of water in the base that forms a seal with the lid. The ceramic container provides insulation so it doesn’t melt. It’s such a revelation - but actually it’s the oldest news in butter history.
While I definitely like the idea of having such a mundane, functional piece of crockery become somewhat of an heirloom, I am not French, nor do I live in France. So where was I going to get one? As luck (and skills) would have it, I could make one for myself. However, it wasn’t always smooth sailing. Most items I design and make require a bit of research and practice to get right. For the first two butter bells I made, the top and base stuck together in the glaze fire. Oops. Back to the wheel to refine my design and adjust my dimensions. I came up with a simple, classic design big enough to fit about 250g of butter. The great thing about my design is that the lid can sit flat on the bench top because it doesn’t have a handle. This way you can use your other hand to hold the toast while buttering, rather than pick it up and put it down. I also made one for my mum and now she is getting me to make them for all her friends.