or Connect
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Cooking Discussions › Pastries & Baking › salt and unsalted butter question
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

salt and unsalted butter question

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
i've been working up the nerve...and patience, to make sugar cookies. i get the majority of my recipes from allrecipes because they have reviews and i like to read what others have to say about how theirs came out...

well... the reviews for the sugar cookies were SO mixed!! most of the negative reviews were saying that the dough was too sticky and too hard to work with. then some say.. oh, wonderful..worked out great!!
huhhh??? :confused: so, i've been reluctant to make them and just buy the dough already made!! i don't REALLY want to.. i won't feel like they are
'homemade' ... i was going to try to make the dough up tonight and it says 1 cup of butter... doesn't say if it's unsalted or salted butter. but the recipe calls for salt... which leads me to think i should use unsalted since i'm going to put salt in it. am i right? wrong?? ugghhhh :confused: as much as i LOVE cooking.. it is very stressful!!

if a recipe calls for butter.. but doesn't specify salt or unsalted... which one do i use???
post #2 of 21
recipes come out differently depending on the ingredients used and sometimes the ability of the cook to use his intuition. If the dough is too sticky, then refrigerate first. Take about a hand-sized and -shaped amount and wrap in plastic, then refrigerate an hour. It takes less time to chill a flat small amount.
If the dough seems particularly sticky, it might be that the temp in your room is higher, or the flour is different, or the butter - just add a little more flour.

as for salted or unsalted butter, personally i always use salted, and the amount of salt is really negligible, and i hate unsalted butter anyway. it goes rancid faster, and often, in the states, sits around for a long time.

anyway, they will sure be better than the bought ones.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
post #3 of 21
use unsalted for your recipe that calls for adding salt. If you buy a pound and don't use the rest, you can always make a double batch and freeze the rest, and use it later.
post #4 of 21
I personally use salted butter. but when it comes to adding in the salt i know the amount to add in to adjust it properly. I get some awesome store brand butter back in PA and it beats out all the other. probably becuasei ts local.

I usually jsut use a pinch instead of what it calls for.

I made some sugar cookies last night.

I cant rmeember the recipe but it used cake flour which helped the texture.
post #5 of 21
I don't do much baking, but generally prefer unsalted butter, which allows better control of the salt in any recipe. However, a lot of people use salted butter - the bottom line is it probably makes little or no difference. If you're concerned, and choose to use salted butter, just cut back a scosh on the amount of salt the recipe calls for.

The type and brand of salt you use is more important. A teaspoon of regular table salt contains more salt than a teaspoon of kosher salt:

Why Season with Kosher Salt? | COPIA.org

shel
post #6 of 21
Ditto to what ChefRAZ advised. In addition to that if you don't wish to make a double batch of cookies you can just freeze the butter. Although I have yet to see butter go rancid in any manner other than allowing it to sit at room temp for several days.
post #7 of 21
Generally in baking you want to stick with unsalted butter...although in my choco-chip cookies, I like a little of that extra saltiness mixed with the sweet of the choco-chips and sugar, so I use salted. All butter-based cookie recipes have a small amount of salt added.

As far as being afraid to make them -- the key is to keep your dough cold. So cube ice cold butter -- do NOT soften -- into your mixing bowl first thing. As you get the rest of your ingredients together, it will warm to the right temp.

When you're done mixing the dough, refrigerate it...and don't rush this part. Cold dough will slice well and bake into beautiful cookies with little or no spread. Warm dough will be sticky and cause a lot of the problems you mentioned.

On the whole -- never expect perfect results the first time you try a recipe. My first several batches of choco-chip cookies were horrible. Now I've experimented to the point that I know exactly how to make them without thinking, the once hours-long process is complete from start of dough to finished cookie in an hour, and my friends and family beg for them.
post #8 of 21
Here's a really good sugar cookie recipe that I have made three times this month: Mean Chef's Vanilla Sugar Cookies Recipe | Recipezaar
post #9 of 21
dudes, y'all are missing the boat on the more important difference between the salted and unsalted butter.
;)
You know how they tell you to not eat too much salt or you'll retain water? Well the same is true for butter. Salted butter has more water in it than unsalted. That's why it's cheaper, they're selling you more water.

If you want top quality baked goods, use unsalted. The only benefit or reason to use salted would be if cost is a major concern and it's for personal use and you don't want to or can't spend the extra buck or whatever.

I use unsalted in ALL my baked goods, never use salted in baking whatsoever. To me the salt itself and saltiness is a much more minor point than the overall texture and quality, and easily adjusted if you wish.

So Connie, your answer is always use unsalted ;)
post #10 of 21
since this is not the pro forum, I'm going out on a limb and say that most general baking recipes have been formulated with salted butter unless it requests unsalted.
All butters here in the states are dated.
I'll agree, most volume/pro formulas are for unsalted.
If you use a recipe from a magazine and it does not request unsalted butter, I would use salted. Most grocery ingredients need more salt to bring out flavor. I love butter and I love salt!!!!:eek::talk::bounce:
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
Reply
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
Reply
post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 

thanks

thanks to all of you who have answered my question. i made the dough at 6 a.m. this morning. i have yet to roll it and cut it.. i ended up using the recipe off the sugar bag. it called for a lil bit of milk, and when the last of the flour went in.. it was really really dry... so i put in a lil bit more milk.. then it ended up too wet.. so i threw in about almost a cup of confec. sugar. lol.. i know.. but i checked it just a lil bit ago, and the texture seems to be spot on.. let's just hope they'll taste good!
post #12 of 21
The difference between salted and unsalted butter is the salt and the age. Both start off at anywhere from 82% -80% butterfat. The milder tasting butter gets the salt, anywhere from 2-5% by weight of salt.

Most continental Europeans will spit out salted butter. The English and N. Americans salt their butter as a method to preserve it, as salted butter tends to keep longer.

I shiver at the thought of salted butter in a French or Italian buttercream or ganache center for chocolates. However I use salted butter in my pie dough and puff doughs, and I might toss in some (no more than 10% of the butter weight) salted butter in cookie doughs, sweet doughs and cake batters.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
post #13 of 21
[quote=DoryD;202809]As far as being afraid to make them -- the key is to keep your dough cold. So cube ice cold butter -- do NOT soften -- into your mixing bowl first thing. As you get the rest of your ingredients together, it will warm to the right temp.

I agree with this. I always use cold butter right out of the refrigerator when creaming it with the sugar even if the recipe calls for softened butter. The chemical reaction of cold butter with the sugar makes a big difference in the over all taste and texture. I do this for ALL cookie recipes.

As far as butter is concerned I always use unsalted.

Don't be afraid to try a new recipe even if it has mixed reviews. The simplest of things can taste completely different when the same recipe is followed and made by two different people. Try something as easy as Rice Krispy treats! They require hardly any skill at all and I can make them and people tell me they are better than they have ever had.

I bet you did not think you were going to start the big butter debate. LOL
post #14 of 21
I'm with you, panini.
I think salt enhances all sweets, the most natural and effective flavor enhancer there is.

To stir it up, I don;t think that's necessarily true that salted butter always has more water. I think it's the american butter in general that has more water - i get european salted butter (Lurpak from denmark, which they sell also in the states, and President from france, which is slightly saltier) and have to adjust my recipes by reducing the butter, since it's clearly greasier than the american butter the recipe was designed for and piecrust or cookies come out greasy.

To foodpump - i think it's true that lots of continental europeans would spit out salted butter, but who cares? Are continental europeans the measure and standard of taste? Isn;t taste personal? Anyway, living in italy, i can say that Italian butter is often rancid-tasting (even if before expiry date), and i would spit out most of it - partly because it's treated as a byproduct of the cheese industry and often has an off smell from the cheese it's stored with. Some brands are ok, but most are not worth using except in a recipe that has a strong flavor of its own, like chocolate or something. But if i can't find the salted kind and have to use even a good brand of unsalted, when i have to put it on bread for breakfast, i add salt!

Finally, for the home cook, the amount of salt in a quantity of butter that would be used in a home recipe is so negligible that it really doesn;t make any difference. Such a level of precision is essential only in large quantities that would be used in a professional kitchen.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
post #15 of 21
Thank you for summing up my feelings on the Great Butter Debate 2007 so nicely. :)

No matter how you slice it (or salt it), it ultimately comes to down to the individual's taste.
post #16 of 21
That comment gives me a chuckle. Some time ago - don't recall where - I came across a parmesan-flavored butter. Bought some, and found it to my liking for a very specific use - making garlic bread - but it really was pretty bad for most every other use. However, it commanded a premium price.

shel
post #17 of 21
True, salt is a very personal taste.

I have to disagree with using ONLY salted butter in baking. In my previous post I have said that I have had good results with using a mix of salted and unsalted butter. The salt content of most butters is 2-5% of the butter weight, thus a pound of butter can contain up to 20 grams of salt. In items with a large portion of butter, like cookies and buttercreams, the salt comes out and takes over the whole flavour profile. The flavour combination of salt and vanilla, for me, is worse than bagpipes being played by a drunken chimpanzee....
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
post #18 of 21
Well, of course...I'd never use salted in buttercream frostings or in cakes. I just like it in my choco chip cookies. :) (But that's because I like to eat buttered, salted popcorn and Snocaps together when I go to the movies, too. :)
post #19 of 21
post #20 of 21
has anyone actually HEARD a drunken chimpanzee play the bagpipes?
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
post #21 of 21
I often cook with salted, but bake only with unsalted (unless it's unavailable.....). But I hate salt, anyway (LOL - my dad got my whole family on a low/no salt kick back in the '70's and it stuck with me. Most food (especially commercially prepared products) taste way too salty for me :cool:
Bakers - we make a lot of dough, but not so much money
Reply
Bakers - we make a lot of dough, but not so much money
Reply
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Pastries & Baking
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Cooking Discussions › Pastries & Baking › salt and unsalted butter question