The debate rages on: Is shortening or butter better for your baked goods?
It’s easy to take sides, but it’s important to hear both arguments. As the evidence shows, your goal in terms of structure, taste and texture will dictate which option you favor.
The Role of Cooking Fat
Fat is essential to a delicious baked product. It adds moisture and traps air bubbles, producing fluffiness. It also carries and traps flavor, enhancing the eating experience. Fat is vital when baking, the only question is — what type of fat will work best for your recipe?
While shortening is pure, 100 percent fat, butter is only about 81 percent fat — the rest is liquid. This affects how each is used and will dictate their performance in the context of your recipe.
The Differences Start with Taste
The first difference between the two is obvious: taste. While shortening is tasteless hydrogenated vegetable oil, butter is salty, creamy and delicious. If you were making a decision based purely on flavor, you’d go with the rich option — butter.
Textures Vary Too
Using butter typically results in a crispy texture when it comes to cookies. Shortening yields fluffier, lighter textures. While these textures vary depending on the specific product, the mixing and the baking methods, it’s a rule of thumb most bakers follow.
Butter has a lower melting point than shortening, and the exact temperature of your butter at the time of mixing and baking has a major impact. You can refrigerate butter (or choose not to melt it) for a result that is more like shortening.
From Pie Crust to Cookies to Cake
Shortening in pie crust is always a good move — it produces flaky, light crusts that butter simply can’t recreate. Butter in cake is delectable — it’s impossible to create the same scrumptious flavor with shortening. For cookies, many bakers decline to choose between butter or shortening — they use both. This means you can taste the buttery flavor, but the shortening holds the cookie together better than butter alone.
Which Is Right for Your Recipe?
Whenever you’re baking with butter or shortening and preparing an important product, always do a test run and try out both options. Use one or the other or a mix of both to get superior results that you and your customers will love.
Deciding between shortening or butter can be challenging and has a major impact on the final product, but picking a mixer is also an important step. Trust Dough Tech to guide your buying process and help you find the ideal commercial mixer for your kitchen.