Salted Butter

Baking By schnumvf Updated 8 Jul 2010 , 8:17pm by Melvira

schnumvf Posted 2 Jul 2010 , 2:51pm
post #1 of 21

Ok, this isn't like the worst disaster ever, but it put a damper on my morning. I recently made the switch to butter instead of margarine. I'm learning that there IS a difference between salted and unsalted butter. I never gave it a second thought in the store, but after whipping up a batch of icing I now see why there are 2 to choose from. My icing tasted, well, like nothing. It was fluff. Tasteless fluff. Too much salt. *sigh* live n' learn... and wait for hubbie to bring home some UNsalted butter so I can finish my cupcakes this evening.

I suppose that mishap did free up my afternoon for me to do more laundry. thumbsdown.gif

20 replies
Win Posted 2 Jul 2010 , 3:14pm
post #2 of 21

or... you can add a bit of lemon extract to counter the salt. About a 1/4 teaspoon should do it for you. If you don't have lemon extract, any dash of citrus will do well... it's at least worth trying vs. heading to the laundry room! LOL

Indeed, there are times I'll buy salted butter vs. unsalted simply because I wasn't looking closely and grabbed up the wrong one, but I counter it by not adding salt to the recipe if it calls for it otherwise.

kimmisue2009 Posted 2 Jul 2010 , 3:14pm
post #3 of 21

That's really crazy to me, and even though I am new, and NO baker to speak, I thought that I had found the opposite to be true. I made a batch of chocolate buttercream that was just blah, and the only thing I did different on it as opposed to all the other times was use unsalted butter. Now, I won't use anything BUT salted, no matter what the recipe says. This is not advice or anything related, just my two cents' worth, because I found it really interesting.

Jesa Posted 2 Jul 2010 , 3:24pm
post #4 of 21

And to add to the crazy...I always use unsalted butter but also separately add salt to my bc, especially chocolate. I just like to be able to control how much salt goes in, since salt content varies in the salted butters.

On the other hand, for buttering good bread, it's salted all the way!

Win Posted 2 Jul 2010 , 3:24pm
post #5 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by kimmisue2009

That's really crazy to me, and even though I am new, and NO baker to speak, I thought that I had found the opposite to be true. I made a batch of chocolate buttercream that was just blah, and the only thing I did different on it as opposed to all the other times was use unsalted butter. Now, I won't use anything BUT salted, no matter what the recipe says. This is not advice or anything related, just my two cents' worth, because I found it really interesting.




Most buttercream recipes I use call for a dash of salt already... indeed this is the perfect enhancement for the recipe, but if you then use salted butter as well, you have gone over the amount of salt required to bring the recipe up to perfection. The same goes for butter cookies, etc. The recipe calls for butter and salt, if you use salted butter, you have gone over the amount required to balance the recipe. It's just a general rule of thumb in baking, but taste is personal and what one finds works for them, might not always work for another. icon_biggrin.gif

kimmisue2009 Posted 2 Jul 2010 , 3:28pm
post #6 of 21

I think that's why I like the salted butter. I hate to measure "dashes and pinches" and my measuring spoons, the last time I saw them, were in the yard.............so I just lean on the salted butter and dont add any salt. We can probably see why I am just an occasional baker......

cakegroove Posted 2 Jul 2010 , 3:30pm
post #7 of 21

I use the "doctored buttercream dream" recipe (salted butter) and LOOOOOOVE it. Won't use anything but it.

BREN28 Posted 2 Jul 2010 , 3:41pm
post #8 of 21

i use salted butter in my buttercream also. half butter,half high ratio shortening,with no problems. it always taste great,and sweet.

Melvira Posted 2 Jul 2010 , 3:53pm
post #9 of 21

In my personal experience, I made SMBC with unsalted butter and it didn't matter that I added salt, it did not have as good a taste. I simply do NOT like unsalted butter as much as salted. To me, there is a difference between salted butter and butter that has been salted. icon_confused.gif I know, I know, sounds crazy, but if you cook something with some salt in it, the salt brings out that foods flavor, etc. and it's good. You most likely won't need salt at the table. If you cook something with no salt, at the table you will need to put salt on it, and instead of really bringing out the flavor, it just kinda enhances it, but makes it taste kinda salty. So when the butter is made with the salt and sits like that, to me it just tastes more like good butter. Of course, that's only my weird opinion. I know everyone likes different things. thumbs_up.gif

Wendl Posted 2 Jul 2010 , 3:57pm
post #10 of 21

My ex-b/f the chef (and as crappy a b/f as he was, he was an awesome chef) - told me chefs generally stay away from salted butter since there's no way to guarantee stick to stick or w/in the stick how much salt is where. It's easier to control the addition of actual salt to a dish while cooking than risk a salted butter messing things up.

I only use unsalted butter in my buttercream and noone has said "eew - it doesn't taste right". I only buy unsalted butter anymore. If a recipe calls for salt, I generally put in less than called for. I haven't added salt at the table for any food in a very VERY long time. I hate it when my brother just heads for the salt w/o tasting his food first. Like we don't have a family full of heart issues...?!??!

Melvira Posted 2 Jul 2010 , 6:29pm
post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendl

I hate it when my brother just heads for the salt w/o tasting his food first.




Absolutely agree 110%!! TASTE something before you go coating it in salt! icon_lol.gif

But let me ask, in sincerity, not as a smart fanny, with salted butter do you think there is really enough salt in it to ruin a dish? As a chef/cook/home cook, don't people taste what they're making before adding a lot of salt? I just find that salted butter makes it so that I don't have to add as much salt. Well, when it's a component that has a ratio high enough to make a difference, that is. Most of the time (not with BC of course) the amount of butter in a recipe isn't enough to make a difference on the saltiness.

I will admit that I've found that half salted and half un is better in SMBC. Full salted is a little less 'icing' tasting. But completely unsalted wasn't right to me either. And again that's just my personal taste preference. I don't think anyone else has to like what I like. (As long as our customers like what we're doing right?)

LNW Posted 2 Jul 2010 , 6:31pm
post #12 of 21

I've never used salted butter before. I use the BC dream recipe too, the one that calls for one stick of salted and one stick of unsalted. I just use two sticks of unsalted. I hate BC to begin with so regardless of what I put in there it would taste gross to me. I went through a bunch of different BC recipes before I stuck with this one. Everyone raved about it so I assumed it must taste good. Maybe I'll throw a stick of salted in there and see if anybody thinks it tastes better.

Win Posted 2 Jul 2010 , 8:19pm
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Melvira


But let me ask, in sincerity, not as a smart fanny, with salted butter do you think there is really enough salt in it to ruin a dish? As a chef/cook/home cook, don't people taste what they're making before adding a lot of salt? I just find that salted butter makes it so that I don't have to add as much salt. Well, when it's a component that has a ratio high enough to make a difference, that is. Most of the time (not with BC of course) the amount of butter in a recipe isn't enough to make a difference on the saltiness.




Melvira, to answer your question and, trying not to sound like a smart fanny myself, the theory is basically, "yes" the amount of salt in salted butter can change the overall outcome of a recipe. And yes, like I was saying above, if using salted butter then use less salt (or no additional salt)in the recipe. I make an all butter shortbread cookie, if I were to use both salted butter, and the additional salt the recipe calls for, I would have a very salty cookie. I know this, because I actually made them once with salted butter... everyone was telling me something was wrong with the cookie, but they couldn't put their finger on what exactly it was. When I went back to check my list of ingredients against what I had actually put into the bowl, I realized I had grabbed salted butter.

Of course, the theory gets thrown right out the window on my baked potato when I add additional salt right on top of my salted butter! Go figure --it just goes back to what I was saying earlier about personal tastes and preferences.
icon_lol.gif

edited to add this explanation which makes more sense than my ramblings:
Salt serves two roles in butter, acting as a preservative and as a flavoring agent. Since refrigeration is so reliable these days, the vast majority of us dont need to give butter spoilage a second thought (especially if you go through it quickly in baking!), so flavor is paramount. Salted butter tastes great on toast and in other foods because the salt will bring out not only the butter flavor, but the other flavors of whatever youre eating. In fact, you probably wont need to add salt at all, if youre using salted butter in your cooking, and this is exactly why salted butter is not idea for baking.

Baked goods, especially that require some leavening, often count on the inclusion of salt to enhance flavor and to ensure the best rise (from cookies, muffins, breads, etc) possible. But recipes tend to specify a small amount of salt in their ingredients and this is where salted butter falls short: you cant control the amount of salt that is in the butter. Omitting the salt called for and using salted butter might turn out a result that is just right, but your dish might not have enough salt in that case. The opposite extreme is that your dish might have way too much salt in it, since salted butters can contain anywhere from 1/4-3/4 tsp of salt per half cup.

Odds are, whatever youre making will probably turn out just fine if you use salted butter, but the risk of getting something a little funky is there and it isnt when you stick with unsalted and have absolute control over the amount of salt you use. Id recommend sticking with unsalted for baking and saving salted for cooking (where flavors are easily forgiven/altered with other spices) or spreading on really good bread.

Wendl Posted 2 Jul 2010 , 8:34pm
post #14 of 21

I just make it easy on my pantry - unsalted butter, all the time. I have received rave reviews of my baking and in partic my buttercream (all butter/no shortening if you haven't seen me declare that in other posts). The recipe I use does not call for salt and I don't add it.
That's just me. If it works for y'all - rock it.

artscallion Posted 2 Jul 2010 , 8:38pm
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by schnumvf

...My icing tasted, well, like nothing. It was fluff. Tasteless fluff. Too much salt. *sigh* live n' learn... and wait for hubbie to bring home some UNsalted butter ...




My perception of salted/unsalted butter is just the opposite of this. Salt brings out the taste of things. Have you made this recipe with both kinds of butter so you have a reference point of comparison. What I mean is, it may not be the butter that's making the recipe tasteless fluff. It may be something else, or just the recipe itself.

That said, I always use unsalted butter except on bread, for two reasons:

- I like to control the amount of salt and most recipes are written with unsalted butter in mind, which is important in the science of baking.

- Salt acts as a preservative. So salted butter is usually left on the market shelf for much longer than unsalted, which has a much smaller restock/turnover schedule, increasing the chances of it being much fresher.

thin4life Posted 2 Jul 2010 , 8:50pm
post #16 of 21

I always use unsalted butter in my baking and frosting recipes. Most professionals do the same. I keep the salted butter for eating on bread, vegies, etc.

Melvira Posted 2 Jul 2010 , 9:51pm
post #17 of 21

Thank you to everyone who offered me their opinions on it, I really do appreciate being able to discuss NON-confrontationally. It's so awesome when we act like adults, eh? Hehehe. Sorry, I just get used to people who only want to argue, so it's nice when people don't! icon_lol.gif

I guess that this should clue you in to why I like the salted butter better... If a recipe calls for 3/4 teaspoon of salt, I will usually end up using a teaspoon. I often go a little heavier on the salt when cooking/baking because then there is no need for it at the table, and in the long run that makes us (my family) consume less salt. That is ONLY applicable to the people I am cooking for, I'm not saying that would work for anyone else. I have just found that to be true with us. I've had people say to me that my cooking/baking is so much better than theirs and they can't figure out why mine is so flavorful when theirs is so bland. Well, they should try using a little salt, pepper, garlic, whatever spices are appropriate. All good cooks know that, right? icon_rolleyes.gif It just cracks me up when people say that stuff. To ME is seems like a no-brainer, but it's not I guess. If you don't know that, you don't know that, right? thumbs_up.gif

I received a wonderful compliment from my SIL's husband the last time they came for dinner. He said it had been a long time since he had sat down to a meal that didn't need to be salted, but wasn't too salty. That made me feel great. He said it was perfect. Hey, that may only be one opinion, but I'll take it!

Kitagrl Posted 2 Jul 2010 , 10:09pm
post #18 of 21

I'm surprised that the salted butter made the icing taste like nothing...I would have thought UNsalted butter would do that before salted butter would.

I have one icing recipe that uses salted, and one that uses unsalted. I use the salted much more.

4realLaLa Posted 2 Jul 2010 , 10:39pm
post #19 of 21

I ALWAYS use unsalted butter in my cakes (and icing too). I just love my Land o Lakes. My husband and kids know not to touch my unsalted for their grill cheese sandwiches, lol. Sorry that you had to learn the hard way. Keep your head up.

emrldsky Posted 8 Jul 2010 , 12:59pm
post #20 of 21

If the recipe doesn't specify, but I notice it asks for salt to be added, I use unsalted. I once made choc. chip cookies with salted butter (wasn't specified) and then added the salt that was listed and I thought they tasted yummy.

DH, on the other hand said, "Next time you make these, can you use unsalted butter?"
I replied with, "Next time YOU make them, you can make them anyway you like!"

Hrmph. Bad enough he ASKED me to make the darned things, then he goes and complains about how they taste... icon_confused.gif I then sat down that evening and ate EVERY.LAST.COOKIE. He was sure surprised to find there weren't any left. icon_lol.gif

Melvira Posted 8 Jul 2010 , 8:17pm
post #21 of 21

emrldsky... Muahahahahaha!! That's how you handle that! Tell him to make them himself, and eat all the 'bad' ones before he can!! YOU GO GIRL!!

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