Last week I realized that I only had (gasp!) one pound of butter, cut into sticks, in my freezer. Now, if you don't bake, you'd think that this is plenty of butter for any household. Not so. If you bake, it's not uncommon to use two sticks at a time. I'm notorious for stockpiling baking supplies, but I'm very particular about what I'll buy now. Fortunately, Gay Lea butter was on sale at my local grocer and picked up three pounds - that should hopefully last until October but I may need more for the Hallowe'en bake sale.
I've learned that it's worth getting really good, unsalted butter to bake with. Gay Lea is my preferred choice and it's got to be unsalted. You can always add a pinch of salt to your dry mix, but once it's already in the butter, it's harder to control. When you're using it, it's also got to be very, very soft. I never knew how important this was until I realized that when you read "add the sugar to the creamed butter", it's so the sugar will dissolve completely into the butter, without a grainy texture. Since my butter is always rock hard from the freezer, I just leave it on the kitchen counter to defrost. Even if I take it out first thing in the morning and don't use it until after dinner, I won't refrigerate it again.
For anyone that says "but it's fattening!", think of how little butter you'll actually be eating in each cookie, slice of cake or bread or scone. Moderation people, it's all about moderation! ;) Nothing compares to that lovely buttery baked taste.