There have been many butter substitutes out there to meet the needs of vegan market, but so far, there’s none that really stands out to pastry chefs. Well, that soon may change thanks to a Dutch startup’s effort to disrupt the whole pastry world.
The startup’s name is Be Better My Friend (BBMF), and it claims to have made the best ingredients to replace butter in traditional pastry-making, improving taste and flavor of croissants, scones and cakes. Compared to the usual plant-based alternative, the startup’s is low-processed and it’s actually well-loved by pastry chefs who have tried it.
Based on Barcelona, the startup began its journey in 2019, when pastry-chef Marike van Beurden approached at then Global Director at the premium chocolate brand Barry Callebaut Group Joost Lindeman. Beurden proposed to create a new product made exclusively for pastry professionals.
Lindeman explained, “There were no good alternative to dairy butter. Either you compromised with flavor, quality workability or price, or the combination of these elements.”
With that in mind, Lindeman agreed to join the project which could potentially revolutionize the sector for the next-generation of pastry professionals and chocolatiers.
While they pandemic had put challenges to many sectors and many people, that didn’t bring the startup down.
Supported by a food scientist, Beurden and Lindeman were able to develop and launch the perfect plant-based butter alternative for artisanal and industrial use. And, the two co-founders had made the components balanced so that it’s stable when used.
Low-processed, stable, and good
In total, it took the startup one year to finally make the coconut butter prototype perfect—it also took the same time to get the product reach the market.
Why so fast? Well, the speedy product development was credited to the limited ingredients as well as the simple processing methods to make the butter.
As mentioned, the new plant-based butter is low-process, with no requirement for food tech processing. In fact, the focus of this product is on the perfect blending of ingredients. So, producing it on a larger scale is easier.
Lindeman has found a partner, a Dutch-based company Royal Smilde Foods, which has helped BBMF perfect its product. “We were able to find a production partner that also believed in the concept and then they transformed the recipe into an industrial resume making sure that can be produced, it’s stable, it’s consistent,” Lindeman said.
Due to its stability, the butter alternative has a longer shelf life. Compared to the dairy, traditional one, BBMF butter can be stored three months longer.
Moreover, a kilogram of BBMF butter saves 9.5 kilograms of carbon and 260 liters of water. Therefore, it also has another environmental advantage.
Loved by pastry chefs and professionals
BBMF first began its marketing campaign through a targeted google advertisement directed at pastry chefs. The campaign invited the target market to learn more about the product. Then, they would get a sample of the product.
With such campaign, BBMF has gathered orders from pastry professionals from over 15 countries, especially in the United Kingdom—all within less than 3 years.
The startup said that pastry professionals have received this product with loving arms, as it offers same quality results in end products, and workability. Other than pastry chefs working in hospitality or owned bakeries, some well-known pastry figures such as Jordi Roca and Johanna Le Pape have endorsed this product.
Previous plant-based butter alternatives have put off pastry professionals, but not this one: for them, it was an easy switch. The reason for that is BBMF butter’s ‘lack of taste’ and ability to transport flavor.
Lindeman, who has worked in many cocoa and chocolate projects while at Barry Callebaut Group and knows one thing or two about flavors, is confident with the ‘tastelessness’ feature of the coconut-based butter.
“We did not want to copy the dairy flavor. Often if you’re working with ingredients like chocolate, cacao, fruits or spices, those soft flavors are being completely hidden by the dairy butter flavor,” Lindeman explained.
The BBMF co-founder added that the product can in fact increase flavor, therefore intensifying every ingredient added to the pastry mix, instead of overpowering them—which happened when using traditional, dairy butter.
Will we (non-pastry chefs) get to enjoy this butter soon?
The startup believes that replacing animal-based butter in dessert creation is going to prove that the pastry sector in general will benefit more from it. So, as briefly mentioned, BBMF doesn’t aim to just make an impact on the pastry industry, it wants to disrupt it.
Recently, BBMF participated in a program hosted by the food awareness organization ProVeg International. At the end of the program, companies shared their businesses ideas and plans for the future to investors, and BBMF won the competition.
Up to this day, the plant-based butter is available at distribution partners in 15 markets including UK, France, Spain, Greece, South Korean and Japan, while soon expanding in Australia.
And while the startup doesn’t care whether it’s providing the plant-based butter to small or big sized customers, it still wants to focus on B2B for now.
“We like to be close to our customers, who are mainly pastry professionals, but we don’t say no to retailers,” Lindeman said.
The current alternatives available for now
So, while we can’t get the pasty-chef-vouched, plant-based butter for our baking needs today, there are some alternatives that are available around. Here are some choices:
Flora Plant Butter
This brand packs its product in individual wrapper paper, and it’s easy to use the butter according to what the recipe calls for. Moreover, it comes unsalted and is nut-free, unlike some alternatives which contain macadamia or cashew. Flora is made of palm kernel and pea protein, which makes it friendly for those who are allergic to tree nuts.
Miyoko’s European Style Cultured Vegan Butter
In 2014, Miyoko Schinner changed the game for vegans who love butter. It has flavor, it melts well, it spreads, and it’s a good ingredient to make a good shortbread.
Before, people could mostly find butter substitutes that were margarine-like and tasted artificial. That is, until Schinner began making cultured cashew dairy. Since then, vegans have stocked their fridge with this brand of butter.
ForA Plant-Based Butter
Some say that this dairy butter substitute smells just as buttery and decadent as the traditional butter. Croissant made with this butter has been described as flavorful, flakey, and laminated.
One caveat, however: because of its excellent performance as a dairy butter substitute, it’s currently so hard to find outside of specialty grocery stores, it’s often sold out, and it’s more expensive than many other brands. It’s practically unavailable like BBMF if one’s not fast enough to get it.
Nonetheless, people who have tried this to bake at home are happy with the brand and they’ve used it for cookies, pound cake, and pie crust. The butter is also great for spreading on toast as well as sautéing vegetables.
Thanks to its ingredients, aquafaba, coconut oil, and coconut cream, the texture is smooth and light, but rich at the same time. It’s really a great substitute for vegans, people with an allergy or sensitivity to dairy, or those who want to try good vegan butter.