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Cape Town pastry chef weighs in on the alarming shortage of butter in SA

Glen Williams sees the butter shortage as an opportunity to be more creative.

11 Sep 2017

(image: iStock)

It's been a tough, dry year for many in the Western Cape with the drought that has alarmingly caused water levels to plummet. Those whose duty it is to buy family groceries will have noticed too the lack of butter in supermarket fridges. Yip, there's a shortage!

READ: Baking without butter: How to cope during SA's current butter shortage

We chatted to Glen Williams, head chef at Constantia's Foxcroft restaurant (and ex pastry chef at La Colombe) about how it's affecting him and other chefs. 
"Surprisingly enough, our bakery is the least affected by this" he says. As for our Viennoiserie (a category of pastry including things like croissants and brioche), we use Elle et Vire dry butter (France is also experiencing a dairy shortage and lately we’ve been using Corman butter from Belgium, which is made under the same parent company, Savencia, and for our refrigerated display pastries/gateaux, we use Elle et Vire cream. We do make our own butter for our bread service, which does help, however, in season when the cream becomes an issue, it does get quite difficult. This is when we start doing alternative spreads or things like our “pork butter” made with no dairy."

Glen says he has tried to limit butter usage at Foxcroft since they opened. "Given the current shortage, we have begun to brainstorm how to rely less on dairy in our food for the season ahead, as we anticipate much worse restrictions."

He says that the shortage provides great opportunity to re-examine the way they cook and why they use dairy products. "I feel like the local pastry crowd can get even more creative than it already is and we should collectively see this as an opportunity for creativity, rather than a setback."

Food24 contributor and baking expert, Julie Donald has a slightly different view saying, "The butter shortage is driving me nuts. It's messing with my mojo. Margarine is an option, but I am deeply suspicious of it. It is impossible to do (butter) costings because the price is going up so quickly, the butter I got recently was actually mouldy...I didn’t even know that could happen to butter! And the cheapest one in the supermarket the other day was imported (food miles!).

Can't live without butter?

Cape Town based recipe developer and blogger, Sam Linsell of Drizzle and Dip offers a quick tip. "My solution is as soon as I see butter on special, I stockpile and store it in my freezer. Butter freezes very well." 

Click HERE for butter-free recipes on Food24!

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