When I bake I like to have my stuff around me. Everything is easier with the right tools. Once in a while I come across a tool that is absolutely indispensible, and I tell everyone about it. This post is about one of my favourite tools in the kitchen. I picked it up for a couple dollars, got one for my baking nemesis and my mom too, and I use it nearly every time I bake. It’s a butter measure.
Maybe I’m an idiot for saying so, but I think this is ingenious. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to get a quarter cup of butter and the label is all off-side and wonky and there’s no way that little sliver on the end is a quarter cup, or even worse, I’ve got two open pounds of butter and I have no idea how much is left of either.
While we’re on the topic of butter – we have a butter problem in our house. We cook with butter all the time – which isn’t the problem. Because the ECBF does nearly all of the cooking in this house (ok, who am I kidding, he does all of the cooking), he needs to use the butter. I stock up on unsalted butter for my baking, and because we cook with so much salted butter, we have that on hand all of the time too. The problem is, the ECBF does not understand or recognize the difference.
The difference, according to my instructor at Red River (I took Advanced Chocolate Work, but that’s a post for another time), has to do with the amount of salt you want in a recipe. With unsalted butter (sometimes called “sweet” butter) you will have more control over the flavour or saltiness of your end product. Additionally, salt toughens the glutens in flour – changing your end texture, so you only want to put in as much salt as your recipe calls for – no more. Salted butter will also last forever, the salt acts as a preservative. Unsalted butter doesn’t last as long (but it freezes great).
So… when I’m in the middle of a baking project and I head towards my stash of unsalted butter, sometimes it’s gone. In its place, a whackload of salted butter. Useless to me. I have developed a system to ease my frustrations, and although I’m slightly embarassed to admit it, it involves treating the ECBF like a child with the following warning labels:
I label my butter very clearly now. I probably always will.