Jun 28

Danish Deficiency

in Daring Bakers

After long hours toiling in a hot kitchen working with things like laminated dough, detrempe, beurrage, and a special technique called turning dough, I am proud to present this months Daring Baker's Challenge, an exquisite Danish Braid.

Okay, okay, I must come clean. This is not my Danish Braid. This masterful creation belongs to one of the blosphosphere's cooking elite, the amazing Helen of Tartelette. She made this recipe not once, but FOUR times this month. First of all, I'm sure mine would not have been this beautiful. Second of all, I had a variety of circumstances that ultimately prevented me from completing this month's challenge. This month's challenge was hosted by Kelly of Sass & Veracity, and Ben of What’s Cookin’?. I was very excited when I found out what the challenge was for this month and looked forward to getting my hands dirty. Every time I went to buy the ingredients, however, I ran into a little problem. Two little words became a very big thorn in my shoe: butter shortage.


Yes, believe it or not, Japan is in the middle of a large butter shortage:

"Japan is planning to import 5,000 tons of butter from Europe and elsewhere in an emergency measure to solve a supply shortage, farm ministry officials said Thursday. The measure is designed to prevent a butter shortage during peak demand season from autumn through the end of this year, the time of year when demand typically peaks.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries asked four major Japanese milk products makers in April to release their butter inventories and increase butter production. But supply has remained below demand due to a tight global supply-demand relationship and a shortage of raw milk. Importing 5,000 tons amounts to more than 5 percent of Japan’s annual butter consumption of some 90,000 tons. The emergency import measure will primarily meet commercial demand but may fall short of solving a shortage for consumers."

Source: Japan Today

A few months ago we started seeing signs in the grocery stores saying that customers were limited to buying 2 boxes of butter per visit. During this time you had to go in the morning to get butter, because by the end of the day all of it would be gone. About a month ago the 2 box limit became a 1 box limit. About the time that the limit was changed to 1 box we stopped seeing butter in the stores altogether. When I visited the international grocery store near our house they would occasionally have butter, but it was always an expensive imported European butter, and I'm sorry, I just wasn't willing to fork out 1,200 yen (approximately $12 US) to buy approximately 200 grams of butter.

I gave up on the idea of finding butter and making my Danish braid a couple of weeks ago when I started getting ready for the packers to come and box up all over stuff. I do plan on trying out this recipe sometime in the near future though, as I've drooled looking at everyone else's creations. Yesterday when we arrived in Southern California and I went to the grocery store to stock our kitchen I probably received some stares as I gleefully grabbed a box of butter to put in my cart. This morning I had butter on a piece of homemade bread (my mom met us at the airport with a loaf she had just baked–smart woman). Butter has never tasted so good.

If you want to try making this beautiful braided creation yourself, head on over to Sass & Veracity for the recipe.

My friend Jackie, who is an amazing cook, just joined the DBs, and did an amazing job on her first challenge! If I could convince Mr. Fuji to buy me a plane ticket I would be at her house in a heartbeat as an uninvited guest . . . .

To read more on the butter shortage in Japan:

1. Asahi.com: Where's the butter?
2. Time.com: Japan's Butter Meltdown
3. The Times: Japan is a market pioneer again

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

soybeanlover June 30, 2008 at 12:17 am

Tell me about it! It has put quite the damper on baking here. When I first noticed it, it just seemed like the weirdest thing to have a shortage of. C’est la vie.


Sweet Tooth June 30, 2008 at 3:18 am

Oh wow – I had no idea that butter could be so hard to get in Japan. Even prices for regular butter must have been increasing on a weekly basis then.

Enjoy your new/old home and I hope the adjustment will be smooth.



Cynthia's Blog June 30, 2008 at 8:03 am

We were expats in Malaysia. We couldn’t get vanilla or good chocolate. But I could at least smuggle those back from USA. I would die w/o butter!


Jackie June 30, 2008 at 1:22 pm

I don’t know what I’d do without butter! I’m not a serious baker but I do like my butter for many other things. Glad to hear you made it back to the states ok and your tummy buttered bread filled!
And, you are invited to our place anytime, so now you can show up at our place as an invited guest. FYI – we finished off the last bits of Danish last week so you will have to give me two days notice so I can start another batch…


Jen June 30, 2008 at 2:11 pm

Welcome to the West!!!!


gleek June 30, 2008 at 7:29 pm

wow, i had no idea that the butter shortage was that bad! glad you could get some on your return to the states :)


JRS June 30, 2008 at 7:43 pm

We still have butter in Hokkaido, but it must be the only place in the country where you can still get it. I can’t deal with margarine, so I’m glad to be up here.

Wow, you’re back…hope it goes well!


Semsavblanc June 30, 2008 at 8:33 pm

How interesting. We have a gas shortage here in Western Australia. Who would ever have thought of such things as butter shortages and gas shortages. So far we are being encouraged to limit our use of gas heaters to two hours per day (in the middle of winter) and to limit our showers to four minutes (I suppose if you used cold water you could stay under for longer, but as I said, it is the middle of winter – 13 degree maximum today).
We are blessed to live in such wealthy countries. Some people do without butter and gas for their entire lives – they probably don’t even know what they are and here we are, taking things for granted, until we discover they have run out!
Thank you for taking the time to share with us when you must be so busy!


Melanie Gray Augustin July 1, 2008 at 7:33 am

Wow, I had no idea (can’t you tell that I’m the non-grocery shopper of our household). I just read on someone’s blog that they were given a gift of butter from a student. I thought that was an odd one, but now I understand.

Yummm.. homemade bread. Your mum really is a great woman!


Misha July 1, 2008 at 2:08 pm

Daring Baker’s Challenge, sounds like fun! I think I might have to sign up myself! Especially if they have yummy challenges like the Danish Braid!


Tartelette July 1, 2008 at 7:14 pm

Well, now that you here, enjoy that buttah! Gas in my car, I can live without but butter…oh boy! That would be trouble!!


erin July 2, 2008 at 12:22 am

I’ve been behind on blogging and just wanted to check and see if you are in the states! Looks like you went out with a bang in Japan with all of the fun things you did! I’m so excited to have you back in the West though! We definitely need to see each other! I’m going to Utah for the
4th, will you by chance be there?


Susan July 2, 2008 at 5:00 pm

You know I’m not a baker by the fact that I haven’t purchased butter for myself in almost an entire year! I bet if there was a shortage, I’d suddenly have a craving, though. Glad you got to stock up in Southern, CA.


Debyi July 4, 2008 at 5:19 pm

Wow, I never thought I would see a butter shortage. I’m glad I used margarine for this challenge, although that probably wasn’t available either.


Claire July 5, 2008 at 11:59 am

Wow…that’s amazing. Hope you get to try this out later on.


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