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.
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.