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Butter me this: A poll

Well, we're all about cookies this week. Our annual 25-cookie issue lands Wednesday, but through this blog you'll also be getting cookie exchange tips from ace local baker Nancy Baggett, baking tips from Tiffany MacIsaac of Birch & Barley and Churchkey and some woeful Tales of the Testers, as well as answers to your baking questions during our Free Range chat -- which is at a special time this week of 2 p.m. (instead of 1 p.m.) on Wednesday.

Speaking of tales, in researching some recipes that went kaflooey, I found out that for Good Housekeeping cookie recipes, it is assumed that you, the public, will use salted butter for baking because that's what you normally have in the fridge. Two of its new cookie recipe cookbooks out this season don't specify the use of salted butter but that's what the editors intend for you to use.

So now I'm curious, and you've got two poll questions to answer below.

-- Bonnie Benwick

By The Food Section  |  December 7, 2009; 1:00 PM ET
 | Tags: Bonnie Benwick, butter, poll  
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Why do people even buy salted butter in the first place?

The only use I could think of for it would be to put it on popcorn (thus saving you the step of having to salt it as well).

Posted by: SamFelis | December 7, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

I only keep unsalted butter on hand. It allows me greater control. I haven't seen a recipe that called for salted butter in awhile.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | December 7, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Joy of Cooking specifies that you should use unsalted, as the amount of salt in butter is not constant and cannot be controlled for.

Posted by: SAF_dc | December 7, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Rule of thumb when baking: Use unsalted butter unless the recipe states otherwise. However, salted butter is the way to go when baking basic breads and rolls.

Posted by: dwilliams03 | December 7, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

I know that all "chefs" specify to use unsalted butter when cooking but, have you ever actually eaten that stuff in its unbaked state? On bread, for example? On egg noodles? It's gross - like butter-flavored Crisco. Unsalted butter is as off-tasting as pasta without being cooked in salted water or bread baked without salt added to the dough. I always use the salted when baking because that's what I always have in the fridge. Never had a problem with any baked good tasting over-salted. There is just not that much salt in "salted butter" to begin with - just enough to keep it from tasting blah.

Posted by: Espionne | December 8, 2009 12:22 AM | Report abuse

I only buy unsalted. Do the cookbooks tell you how much salt to add to the recipes if using unsalted? It's pretty bad that they're not specifying salted but are assuming that that's what you'll use.

Posted by: AmyH3 | December 8, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

How odd. Why do they assume that people have salted butter on hand? I only buy unsalted and that's all I've ever seen mentioned in a recipe. I use it on toast and noodles and I think it tastes fine. I guess people could put salt on the finished product if they wanted it to taste salty. But it would be nice if the recipe included the fact that they are making this assumption and also included some idea of how much butter should be added to the recipe if unsalted butter is used.

Posted by: margaret6 | December 8, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Funny how we get used to something. We once got a lot of salted butter from someone who bought it by mistake & didn't like it. We found it weird, but ate it anyway!
I only buy unsalted. In addition to liking it better for eating & baking, salted butter may not be as fresh, since salt is used as a preservative.

Posted by: GirlScoutMom | December 9, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

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