When I go to the grocery store I am finding more and more options for butter. That has made me wonder which butter is best for baking when my recipe just calls for “butter”. I consulted King Arthur Flour to find what differences there are among butters.
According to King Arthur Flour, Grade AA butter has the most buttery flavor. It has 18% water, at least 80% butterfat, and 1%-2% milk solids. It is great for baking and spreading.
European style butter (i.e. Kerrygold) has less water and is higher in fat, ranging from 82%-86%. In baking it can create a more greasy or sometimes drier product if European style butter is not specifically called for in the recipe.
Whipped butter is aerated with a special type of gas to make it more spreadable. It also contains additives that keep it from going bad. Whipped butter is not recommended for baking.
Cultured butter (i.e. Organic Valley) is slightly tangier because it is inoculated with live bacteria that release lactic acid. Cultured butter is also not recommended for baking ~ but it is delicious ON baked products!
The salt in Salted butter acts as a preservative and masks any potentially off flavors. Because of that, it often sits on grocery store shelves longer than unsalted butter does. Most brands of salted butter contain about 1/4 teaspoon of salt per 1/2 cup stick.
So – the recommended butter to use in most baking recipes is AA unsalted butter. That way you are able to control the amount of salt in your recipe and have the most buttery flavor.
If you choose to use margarine in your baking, choose one with 100 calories per tablespoon. If it has less calories than that, it means water has been whipped into the margarine which will affect your finished product. Typically that is the store brand.