* Butter tenderizes a baked product. It also adds color and flavor that is impossible to replicate.
* Butter is available lightly salted (salt acts as a preservative) or unsalted. Unsalted butter offers a delicate, cultured flavor.
* Unsalted butter may be substituted for salted butter or vice versa. It is not necessary to alter the amount of salt in the recipe.
Butter is made from churned sweet cream and in the United States must contain at least 80 percent butterfat. Butter also contains water and milk solids. Sometimes a coloring agent (Annatto) is added to salted butter to give it a deep yellow color. In the U.S. butter is graded by letter code according to flavor, color, texture, aroma and body. AA, A, and B are the letter codes used. Grade AA (I use Land O Lakes brand) will give you maximum results in your baking because of its sweet aroma and flavor as well as its smooth creamy texture.
Butter comes in two forms salted and unsalted. Salt is added to butter for flavor and as a preservative so it will have a longer shelf life. However, salt can overpower the sweet flavor of the butter and can also mask any odors. Salted butter also contains higher water content.
I prefer to use unsalted butter because of its taste (fresher and more delicate flavor). Also, the amount of salt added to salted butter varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and it is hard to know how much extra salt to add to your recipe. The rule of thumb is that if you are substituting salted for unsalted butter in a recipe, omit the extra salt in the recipe (i.e. Omit ¼ teaspoon of salt per ½ cup of butter). Unsalted butter has a short shelf life because it contains no preservatives. Most butter has an expiry date on it. However, if you buy unsalted butter and do not use it right away, it is best to freeze it. You can freeze butter for around six months if it is well wrapped so that it will not pick up odors. Just make sure you defrost the butter overnight in the refrigerator before using it.
Never use whipped butter in baking as it has air whipped into it that changes the volume of the butter.
Butter adds flavor and texture to your baking and helps to keep it fresh. It is used as an ingredient in baking but can also be melted and brushed on baking pans to prevent sticking. The temperature of the butter is very important in baking. When room temperature butter is used in your recipe this means your butter should be between 65 and 70 degrees F. This temperature allows the maximum amount of air to be beaten into your batter. This creaming or beating of your butter or butter and sugar creates air bubbles that your leavener (baking powder or baking soda) will enlarge during baking. Most experts recommend 4 to 5 minutes of creaming the butter.
Cold butter is used in some baking (pie crusts). With this method the butter is not absorbed as much by the starch in the flour and layers result when baked thus creating flakiness.