Hi! I’m Shani, and I’m the resident Butter Ambassador here at Begin with Butter. Welcome!
This site is a resource to help you to become a better baker, by helping you decode the techniques, equipment and ingredients that advanced home bakers and pros use! I love beginners here, because I remember my own beginnings.
Origins (aka “Kids Change Everything”).
My origin story is a little atypical for a baker. You see, I couldn’t bake AT ALL until I began, quite by accident, in 2013. In fact, my family openly discouraged me from using any baking ingredient or tool at a young age.
”I’m not a baker. I can’t do that. But I can cook though!” —Me, circa 197?-most of 2013.
This was not uncommon.
That all changed in 2013, when my daughter was a brown-skinned, chubby-cheeked preschooler. One crisp autumn afternoon, I arrived to pick her up and saw it: THE SIGN UP LIST. WITH ONE REMAINING SLOT.
For the uninitiated, the sign-up list outside of the classroom is a Lord of the Flies kind of situation. It’s low-tech crowdfunding for classroom events. Basically, a teacher posts a list of needed items and each family signs up up to bring an item or two.
My daughter’s teacher was a kindly, grandmotherly-type. The kind who moved languidly throughout her day with thirteen rambunctious, high-octane three year-olds, and whose deep smile lines betrayed the millions of toddler jokes she’d shared with her students since the beginning of her career.
She was also an absolute stealth ninja when it came to the timing of these sign-up lists. She often placed them right before the end of school with NO WARNING.
Needless to say, there were many times that I was caught T O T A L L Y off guard by the appearance of The List.
Those that arrived early signed up for napkins, cups, and plates. I never—NOT ONCE—arrived early on List Day. To this day, I am always LAST.
That crisp autumn day, when leaves were just beginning to fall, there remained one item: sugar cookies and frosting. SUGAR COOKIES AND FROSTING. The kindly smile that the teacher gave as I approached the classroom let me know that I would not be able to escape the ask. She gently guided my beautiful, red-faced, rumpled child to the door and asked, with her cottony-soft voice:
“Can you sign up for our alphabet activity?”
And that is how my baking career began.
Do you believe in love at first sight? Or should I walk by twice?
That perfectly sums up how I felt about baking at first. After a delirious, sleepless night of measuring, mixing, chilling, rolling, chilling, cutting, chilling, rolling, baking, burning, chilling, cutting and baking some more, somehow I made 52 passable sugar cookies.
Since 2013, I’ve been practicing and perfecting my own techniques, using a blend of formal techniques (because croissants and French bread demand them) and old-school family techniques to create my own special brand of baking. After all of this practice and study, I’ve ended up in a sweet place, where I pay homage to the generations of ancestors before me, and add small tweaks to techniques that will hopefully pave a way for those after me.
Where I Am Now and How I Can Help.
Even though I’m not classically-trained, you can rest assured that all of the techniques that you see on this site are tried and true from my years of study and practice. I hope you find them as useful as I have; it’s honestly made me feel very connected to all of the women in my family to be able to share this gift with them now.
Begin with Butter is the place where you’ll find the tips and techniques that I’ve learned through the years. It’s where I’m sharing all that I’ve gathered, after years of study and delicious (and sometimes not-so-delicious) practice and compiling it into one resource for you. I’m honored that you chose Begin with Butter as part of your own research, and look forward to seeing the beautiful confections that you create!
(that last part was a shameless plug to follow Begin with Butter on social media and subscribe here to get updates!)
On this site, I talk a lot about baking science. Learning the science demystified baking for me, and that’s what I hope to do for you! So, there are both “lessons” on baking science (like this one about the Basics of Butter), and also fun posts where I put that knowledge into practice (like here and here!). I hope you’ll stay for a while and check it all out. Don’t hesitate to contact me if there’s something else you want to learn!
For more about Begin with Butter, take a look here!