Day 22: When To Use Salted And Unsalted Butter In Baking

It’s important to start off by saying that whenever you have a freshly baked loaf of bread, it’s a rule to slice of the end, cover it in salted butter and immerse yourself in that treasure chest for a while.

Secondly, have you ever wondered why there is salted and unsalted butter? Why do recipes say to use unsalted but then add salt? Or why is salt even needed in baking?

I’ve got you covered!

Salt Enhances Flavour

To really understand this point, you need to taste it.

Make your favourite cookie recipe without any additional salt, then another batch with a small amount of salt.

In baking, the salt acts as a bitterness suppressor and a sweetness enhancer meaning your end result with a small amount of salt in will have a better flavour.

My Lemon and Vanilla Scones. Find the recipe here.

So Why Not Use Salted Butter All The Time?

It simply comes down to this.

You don’t know how much salt is in the salted butter meaning you have zero control over your end result.

Normally, you’ll end up with a result that’s too salty and that’s not great to eat.

The other thing is that in my view and experience there’s a reason why people specialise as a chef or pastry chef and it all comes down to science.

While I love the odd bit of baking and bread making, I certainly couldn’t do it all the time because it really is an exact science. My cooking style is too wild for that.

Pastry chefs and bakers on the other hand might as well be scientists because they’re so exact it’s beautiful to watch in its own way.

When this trickles down to the basics of home cooking, I’d always recommend therefore choosing unsalted butter because then you have full control and you’re less likely to make a mistake.

When To Use Salted Butter In Baking

Remember when I mentioned earlier about slathering freshly baked bread with salted butter?

This is where salted comes in to it’s own.

A lot of recipes call for toppings such as honey butter when glazing rolls or muffins and salted butter works better here.

I’ve seen some people who take a more minimalist approach only keeping unsalted butter in the house and sprinkling salt on there buttered bread, but all you’re going to have is pockets of crunchy salt which isn’t great to eat.

Plus if it comes down to it, get rid of that jar of chutney that’s been hanging around for years rather than a block of butter!

Experiment

As this is a back to basics pieces, I invite you to start with unsalted butter and experiment by adding small amounts, 1/4 tsp of salt to see where your taste buds lie.

Also it’s ok to make mistakes!

I once grabbed the salted butter instead of the unsalted and added additional salt. That tasting was interesting hahaha!

Did You Know That I’m Lactose Intolerant? It’s Awful.

A number of you might be wondering what to do if you can’t eat dairy.

Having been lactose intolerant for nearly 7 years now I understand it’s difficult going cold turkey because let’s face it, dairy is amazing!

While there are alternatives such as dairy free spreads, chick pea water etc I will say these points.

  • Dairy free baking will not yield the same results as dairy baking and anyone who says it’s the same is lying. Blunt but true.
  • A lot of dairy free spreads have palm oil in them which is devastating to our environment. Please please please avoid buying these.
  • Chick pea water or aquafaba is an interesting one because yes it produces results, but flavour wise I’ve only found it works when there’s a strong flavour such as chocolate in the mix. Also be aware that not a lot is known about it’s nutritional profile so that’s something to be aware of if you’re in to that sort of thing.
  • A great alternative is rapeseed oil in baking. Over the years I’ve developed a number of dairy free bakes using rapeseed oil and no one’s been able to tell which is what you want!
  • Plus rapeseed oil is a sustainable British crop so a win on both counts.

The other thing, I rarely bake! While I obviously love cakes etc, I’ve found over the years I do better without the sweet treats.

On an average week I’ll maybe have 1 slice of cake? Usually not even that. So that’s another way (although admittedly not for everyone) I keep the dairy away while staying strong and not in pain.

Because of this, when I do bake I love going all out! And normally this is on Sunday’s. A roast dinner and a pudding 😀

Invest in your ingredients and yield the results!

Really go for it and produce a centre piece! It’s so much fun 😀

Coming Up!

The main point of this challenge is to have fun with it, learn new skills and refresh old ones.

I want to see your creations so don’t forget to tag me and show off what you’ve been doing!

I’m taking part in the Rebalance May Cookery Challenge! Check it out here http://www.therebalancechef.co.uk