unsalted butter when does it matter?
- Betty Dec 22, 2005 02:20 PM
I am wanting to make a chocolate filled danish roll out of the new Williams Sonoma Essential Baking book - with which I have been totally happy so far, by the way -
It calls for unsalted butter for the laminating of course (which I have done before so no big worries there) but we have loads of butter, and only half enough unsalted. Will it make a real difference in the dough quality if it is half salted or do I need to go buy even more butter?
Unsalted butter is the variety of choice of professional chefs because they season their creations as a matter of course, and too much salt is not gustatorally good.
If the recipe that you are using does not call for the addition of salt, using butter with salt as half the amount called for in the recipe can't hurt that much. Salt is a taste enhancer as well as physiological necessity.
I would add, however, that unsalted butter is usually of higher quality (especially if wrapped in foil -- Land O'Lakes has been sent to a very bad place because of their decision to switch to paper), as salted butter preserves longer and thus can (especially if wrapped in paper) acquire off flavors depending on how it's stored. Many palates won't be able to tell, but more refined palates -- especially folks like my grandmother who grew up on an Irish dairy farm and could rank butter like a truffle pig can smell truffles -- may well be able to notice. I'd go ahead, but someday you should try to make the recipe as written with really good unsalted butter.
I would advise NEVER using salted butter in a recipe.
The only reason it exists is because it lasts longer on the shelf because the salt acts as a preservative.
Therefore it is never as fresh as good sweet butter.
You can buy sweet butter on sale, wrap it in saran, foil and store it in a freezer bag in your freezer until needed.
Sort of a sidenote: i used to bake with salted, because it was what i had on hand for buttering bagels. I switched to Smart Balance (darned Eastern European heriditary high cholesterol) and now only buy unsalted butter. My point here, is that now I use kosher salt in baked goods and have fallen in love with it! I originally just tossed some in b/c i didn't have any table salt. But the kosher provides this excellent salty undernote and every now and then, you get a little crystal which contrasts so nicely, esp. with chocolated!