Miranda is a contributor at Food52.
The reason that baking recipes call for unsalted butter and then have you add salt is so that the amount of salt is controlled by you. Different brands of salted butter may have differing amounts of salt added, and by adding it yourself you can add according to recipe, or even to your own taste. hope this helps!
I have also heard [maybe on Good Eats?] that unsalted butter goes bad faster, so stores have to keep a fresh amount around. Where as salted butter can start to gather a bit of odor funk without spoiling, which sometimes affects your baking/cooking flavors.
pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.
Controlling the amount of salt, not just in pastries, but in sauces is important. With sauces it's critical and you have to taste as you go.
Since everything tastes better with salt most people used salted butter years ago. But that was before everything was processed and contained a ton of hidden salt. Now most cooks use unsalted butter for cooking and then salt to taste after all the other ingredidents have added their hidden salt. In baking I agree with pierino, use unsalted unless you don't have any. If you use salted butter in baking then don't add as much additional salt. I don't think the use of salt as a preservative matters much now as everything is refriderated better. I did read that the wrapper around the butter sticks is the most important thing to keep flavors from leeching into the butter in the fridge. Consumer Reports found Land of Lakes, with its foil wrappers with wax backers to be the best. (Even better than expensive imported butters.)
Unsalted butter tastes better , like butter should. When I buy a block I cut it into 1T chunks, wrap in plastic and put in the freezer. Pull it out as required. Enjoy a glass of wine waiting for it to thaw, or pop in the microwave for 4 or 5 seconds.
I cook with unsalted (mostly - unless I have run out), but use salted on my toast with marmalade or honey. Yeah it's a pain to keep both around. But it is worth it. Also I keep mine in a butter bell (both salted and unsalted), so there is less funk attracting opportunity
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