It’s hard to name a more iconic duo than butter and bread. They have always been inseparable, but now the pair have been giving an insta-friendly twist: the butter board. It is what it sounds like - a board with butter - but thanks to Instagram and TikTok, it has become an aesthetically pleasing and fun way to serve butter. Instead of just serving bread with butter on the side, why not make it a main attraction on the dinner table? These tasty displays are a board covered with softened butter, served with cut-out bread on the side that you dip in the butter spread. The layer of butter can be topped with salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon zest, and fresh herbs to make the spread more appealing to your eyes and mouth. Charcuterie, tapas, and cheese boards have been a classic addition to dinner parties for a long time, but now the time has come for the butter board.
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What is a butter board?
In 2017, Joshua McFadden shared his recipe for a butter board in his book Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables, co-authored with Martha Holmberg. Then five years later, on September the 15th, Justine Doiron posted a recipe of her take on the butter board on her Instagram @justine_snacks, which turned out to be the beginning of a new viral food trend.
With over 1 million views on TikTok alone, it is safe to say that butter boards are one of the latest food trends. But what is the hype about? Besides the obvious pairing of two classic items, butter and bread, the dish contains very few ingredients which makes it super easy to try out yourself. It requires few elements (obviously butter and bread being the main elements), it doesn’t require cooking skills, it is easy to adjust to your liking, and most importantly, it is aesthetically pleasing. The hype of the butter board lies mainly in the visually pleasing presentation; chunks of bread sliding through the thick layer of beautifully decorated butter; what is not to like?
Not any butter will do
Before making your first butter board, you must choose the right kind of butter. When the main ingredient is butter, it can pay off to select a high-quality butter to make the flavor stand out; do you prefer organic, grass-fed, or vegan butter—salted or unsalted? Maybe even pumpkin spiced butter? As mentioned earlier, not all butter tastes the same.
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To make the board, the butter must be softened. Otherwise, it will be difficult to spread out evenly and be challenging to get on your piece of bread. Once the butter is softened (either by being slightly whisked or take it out of the refrigerator for a half an hour before serving). Softening the butter also makes it easier to create a more appetizing display since you can spread out evenly and create a smoother texture. If served too cold, the taste of the butter vanishes a bit and will also make it difficult for the taste of the toppings to stand out. The butter can be applied to a board or platter in a rustic way or delicately put on the board to look like a flower, whatever you’d like.
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But the beauty of the butter is the various ways you can serve it; the topping enhances the flavor of the butter. The dish can be savory and topped with herbs, flaky salt, lemon zest, vegetables, or fish, or it can be served as a dessert plate and covered with berries, nuts, chocolate, and maple syrup. The options are endless.
Just as important as the quality of the butter is, the same goes for the bread. With the simple flavors of the butter spread, it can be worth it to choose a bread with a great taste. Bread like sourdough contains a deeper flavor from the acid in the sourdough starter. Perhaps you’d prefer bread that accentuates the taste palette in your butter spread, like cinnamon raisin or focaccia with rosemary.
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The more the butter
As the name of the food trend implies, the board is built around butter. But even with as few dominant ingredients, there’s no reason not to make it your own. People on TikTok and Instagram have already put a spin on the trend by creating a peanut butter board, cream cheese board, and vegan butter board. With the vegan butter board. Keep in mind that vegan butter is more likely to melt or separate faster when left out at room temperature than regular butter (which contains fatty proteins that help hold it together). When going with the vegan version of the butter board, a good tip is to make the board beforehand and take it out of the refrigerator immediately before eating. Another - and perhaps more fun tip - is to simply eat it all at once.
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The butter board is a new exciting recipe to try out, and who doesn’t love bread with a lot of butter? Whether you drizzle your layer of butter with honey or pesto or add berries or herbs, it is a fun way to spice up this classic snack. The possibilities are endless, just like the video inspiration you can find on TikTok and Instagram. And just as other viral food trends on social media, it is a very easy food trend to get on (butter) board with.
Rosemarie Lundgaard is studying for a master's degree in Contemporary Literature at the University of Aarhus. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY, and enjoys coffee, going on walks, literature, and anything pop culture related.