Sunday, May 11, 2008

Butter is Not Always Better

It being Mother's Day today, I was talking to my mother. She mentioned that she'd made some lemon bread that completely fell apart when she de-panned it. She'd swapped butter for the shortening and "sour cream" for the milk, since her milk is skim. What did she do wrong?

Her sour cream was actually whipped cream, that she'd made of cream and whipped--without sugar--that had gone a bit passed its date...and was, therefore, sour. I don't know if this type of sour cream has the same density as regular sour cream, but I'm not certain it would be a good substitute for milk.

Since I didn't know, I needed to figure out if butter is a good substitute for shortening. I read lots of statements that said that butter is always terms of health and flavor, that is. But when it comes down to the science of it, butter is NOT always better. At least, not if you do a one-to-one substitution.

Why is that? Well, shortening is pretty much 100% fat. And butter is fat, water and sometimes salt. If your recipe requires half a cup of shortening and you put in half a cup of won't have enough fat. But you will have extra liquid. So, what I've read is that you need to have 1.2 times the amount of butter as the recipe calls for shortening.

What really crushed her is that she had special butter from Trader Joes that she said is better in baking...but she didn't use it. It likely has less water and salt in it. I never did ask her why she didn't.

So...can you substitute butter for shortening? Yes, but adjust your recipe accordingly.

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