Someone on the food channel stated that all baked goods that call for butter should use unsalted butter rather than regular. If this is the case, why don't the recipes state that in their directions? When I see a recipe call for butter, I have never seen it state a preference for unsalted butter. Should unsalted be used instead, and if so why don't the recipes call for it?
I have only used it in making frosting, but never to my knowledge in cakes, etc.-- Marge
The recommendation comes from a standard practice, especially in baking, that unsalted butter is used most often and therefore assumed to be what is required. Also, it is preferable that foods be under- rather than over-salted. So, if you have to err, better to use unsalted butter and end up with food that is a little bland.
As I stated in the posting Do I Need to Use Unsalted Butter?, in almost all cases you can use salted butter in place of unsalted simply by reducing the amount of salt in the recipe by about 1/2 teaspoon per cup of butter used. As always, I recommend that readers let their tastebuds be the guide. Try using unsalted butter, then try using salted butter and reducing the salt in the recipe, and see if you can tell or even care about the difference.
Sweet (unsalted) butter and regular salted butter both contain the same amount of butter fat, so unsalted butter has a bit more water, about 1/2 teaspoon per pound, to keep the fat content the same. In general, that amount of water will not make a significant difference.
I agree that recipes should be explicit in stating whether the butter used is salted or unsalted. Some cookbooks give a blanket statement somewhere regarding this. For example, my old copy of The Joy of Cooking says, in the section About Butter on page 539, "Most of the recipes in this book call for sweet butter -- first-grade butter made from sweet cream with no added salt." Of course, since most of us don't read every word of a cookbook, we may not see notes like that. It is a good idea though to see if there is a general section about measurements, or notes on specific ingredients, that might help.