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On Buttering Bread

weather: rainshowers
outside: 13.8°C
mood: cheeky
For chenpion, who postulated that I could make buttering bread sound interesting. I accept your challenge. *bow* =D

From: Kitchen Hints and Tips - Buttering Bread Fast

If you are having a large get together [sic] and you need to make a large amount of bread that needs to be buttered you may not want to spend the whole afternoon buttering each piece.

Instead you can microwave the butter for about 20 seconds, stir it and if necessary microwave again at 10 second incriments [sic] until melted.

Now all you have to do is pick up a pastry brush and paint the bread!

Has anyone actually tried this? Is it that much faster? It doesn't sound faster to me. You're still touching each piece of bread once.

I've never tried this before, but even if this method takes, say, about half as long to do butter one piece as opposed to spreading, it would be the difference between O(n) versus O(n/2). Which, if you're buttering a royal whopping buttload of bread, would actually make no difference at all.

But the question is, would 'n' ever be so large such that the two methods end up taking the same amount of time? IOW, how royal and how whopping would the buttload have to be?

The Computer Science degree has messed up my idea of "faster".


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 13th, 2005 05:20 am (UTC)
You're still touching each piece of bread once.

True, but I gather that the theory is that you're touching each slice for a shorter period of time.

it would be the difference between O(n) versus O(n/2). Which, if you're buttering a royal whopping buttload of bread, would actually make no difference at all.

You can't use big-O notation to find the absolate time taken, since the constant may be different. Time complexity isn't that useful in general, I'd say.

(Which is why an algorithm with a "large" big-O complexity may actually finish more quickly than one with a "small" one if the constant is sufficiently different -- say, if the set-up time is much larger and there are only a few pieces of data to be processed, so the "worse" algorithm, which has a smaller set-up time, is better on that data set since there aren't enough items for the "better" algorithm to amortise(?) the set-up time over.)

But I'm sure you knew that.
Jun. 13th, 2005 05:48 am (UTC)
But I'm sure you knew that.

Hence the " cheeky" =)
Jun. 13th, 2005 04:40 pm (UTC)
pne is right in that you can't use big O notation for this. The problem is that you're still going to have to butter n pieces of bread but the time to butter each one is less. So if it takes "k" time for each piece with a knife and "b" time with a brush and b < k, then you're still faster in terms of absolute time (bn < kn). Of course, this assume that k and b are constant for each piece.

My suggestion is a lazy algorithm. Only do work when you have to so make your guests butter the bread if they want it buttered. As I learned in algorithms class, laziness can be efficient.

(Deleted comment)
Jun. 13th, 2005 05:50 am (UTC)
I think it's for buttering a whole lot of bread for making a lot of sandwiches or as xinit says below, when you need to toast a bunch of garlic bread. I can't imagine just serving it that way either =)
Jun. 13th, 2005 05:23 am (UTC)
Does "O(n/2)" even make any sense? I'd say that O(n/2) = O(n) = O(3n+15) = ...
Jun. 13th, 2005 11:25 pm (UTC)
You're right on that count. Big-O notation means all O(j*n+k) are O(n).

O(n) is pretty much lower bound for anything where you have to touch every item. There's no way to get this to O(log n) or O(sqrt n).
Jun. 13th, 2005 05:25 am (UTC)
Well, it's certainly -interesting-...

Not necessarily good, though =P

You wrote a post about buttering bread that I actually -read-. Nobody else can claim that. -Nobody-. Heh.

See, the way I approach it is this. You can lay out all the bread on a large table and go in a painting frenzy. This would be faster than actually buttering (with a knife). Van Gogh, for example, probably would have been the fastest butterer of the second style in the history of bread buttering.
Jun. 13th, 2005 05:29 am (UTC)
Personally, I would never use the m/w to melt butter for this purpose except if it was particularly hard and I wanted to soften it. If I want "buttered bread", that's what I want. Not soggy butter-flavoured dough, which is what I feel I would have if I did the m/w method. :P

Just make sure your butter has been unrefrigerated long enough to go soft and go from there. It should still be firm enough to be solid, yet soft enough to spread.

And while we're on the buttering bread topic, I have NEVER understood why restaurants serve hot bread with rock-hard butter. WTF??? All you're going to end up with is shredded bread and GLOBS of butter. Yecccchhhhhhhhh!!! :P
Jun. 13th, 2005 05:35 am (UTC)
It's faster...

Used to work in an italian restaurant, and the garlic bread was toasted by the loaf... garlic butter was kept liquid under a heat lamp, and using a 3-inch brush, it's super fast; one stroke.

You could even line up 4 or 5 pieces, and do 'em all in one swipe.

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )


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