Why Martha Stewart Uses Unsalted Butter In Pastry Crusts

When it comes to pastry dough, pie crust ranks among one of our favorite ways to consume it. After all, every great pie — fruit, cream, or of the savory variety — starts with a golden brown and flaky crust. At its most basic, pie dough uses staple ingredients like flour, butter, salt, and water. Of course, there are always those unexpected ingredients many bakers add to their pie crusts that can separate a good pie from a great pie. Vinegar, lemon juice, buttermilk or vodka can really change the texture and flavor of a pie crust. But these aren't the only ingredients that can affect the way your pie crust tastes.

Martha Stewart is the consummate baker and knows her way around a good pie. The lifestyle guru and domestic goddess has educated us about how lard can help a pie crust and how a simple glaze can elevate a fruit crostata in the form of apricot preserves which, she, naturally, makes herself. Well, now Stewart is sharing her buttery tip she says can really impact each bite of your pie crust. 

In an interview with Food & Wine, Stewart revealed she prefers unsalted butter over salted when making a pie crust for one simple reason.

It gives the baker control

Unsalted butter is Stewart's go-to fat for her pie crusts because, as she explained to Food & Wine, it allows the baker to have more control over the amount of salt in the recipe. While salted butter is creamy and savory, accurately measuring the amount of salt that will actually be added to the crust is not an easy task. This not only can affect the flavor, but it can contribute to the overall balance of the recipe and how your pie crust tastes.

Additionally, unsalted butter has more of a neutral taste and is a blank canvas that allows other flavors from your pie crust ingredients to shine through. In contrast, salted butter imparts a salty taste which sometimes doesn't mesh with some of the sweet flavors you might be using. But to Stewart's point, using unsalted butter gives you the ability to adjust the salt level to fit your palate and any dietary concerns you might have.

If you are looking for inspiration on what type of butter to use, Stewart said she likes to use Vermont Creamery butters as well as those of Irish origin like the popular Kerrygold.