The basic function of butter or any fat substitute when it comes to baking is pretty simple — retain moisture for even baking. Fats don’t evaporate like water as they are broken down under the heat of a baking oven. Because they break down slowly, they are able to weaken the gluten in baked goods, making the end product more tender and evenly browned through. To ensure you are using the ideal fats when mixing up something delicious in your Bosch mixer, we have compiled a guide covering butter and all other fat substitutes.
Butter And Your Baked Goods
You’ve probably noticed that most baked goods recipes call for butter in either large or small amounts. Along with the above reasons, butter is added to recipes for the flavor it imparts to baked goods. Some butters have a higher fat content than others which makes them more flavorful than lower fat content butters. Butter does a decent job at making baked goods soft and flaky but it won’t make ultra flakey pie crusts. However, there is one thing we want to make clear.
Margarine and butter are not the same thing. While margarine is often used as a substitute for butter, it is not the best choice when it comes to baking. While both margarine and butter have 80% fat content, unless the margarine is marked “spread” then it can be less, the fat in margarine comes from vegetable oil. It will not add the rich flavor butter will and many kinds of margarines contain trans fats, which are the fats you should cut out of your diet completely.
What Oil Brings To The Baking Process
There are several kinds of oils you can use in the baking process. Sometimes they are the only fats called for by a recipe and other times, a baked goods recipe will call for both butter and oil. This is because both have slightly different roles to play as your food bakes.
While butter will bring flavor and some flakiness, oil will create a denser profile to your baked goods. Think of things like brownies and fudge for examples of the interactions of butter and oil. However, the various baker-friendly oils will bring different qualities to the baking process.
- Vegetable oil – A combination of many different vegetables has gone into creating vegetable oils. It is generally a flavorless addition to baked goods, so we wouldn’t recommend using as your primary fat source.
- Olive oil – Depending on whether you use regular olive oil or extra virgin olive oil, you will have a different flavor profile. Regular olive oil imparts light flavoring to your baked goods, mostly a light buttery taste but it is not the same strength as actual butter in a recipe. Extra virgin olive oil can have stronger flavors which will depend on where the olives came from. Most will state whether they contain grassy, butter, spicy, or fruity flavors, so be sure to choose the one which will suit your baking best.
- Coconut oil – Unique in its sweet flavor, coconut oil brings a light, sweet coconut flavor to your baked goods. You may want to cut out a third of the sugar in your baked good recipe when using coconut oil, as the oil and the full amount of sugar may make the recipe too sweet.
Baking Showdown Between Shortening VS Lard
Like many fats, lard is an animal product which was demonized for its high-fat content and cholesterol. Shortening was created from hydrogenated vegetable oils and touted as a healthy alternative to lard. But the more both of these baking ingredients have been examined, their claims have been challenged.
Lard – Made by rendering pork fat, this baking fat adds a light, flaky flavor to your baked goods. It actually has no effect on your cholesterol levels, and like other animal fats, is more flavorful than vegetable fats. Lard can be used in everything from light pie crusts to sweet cookies.
Shortening – This vegetable fat has similar effects to lard when it comes to baking, but the taste or lack thereof can be apparent at times. While shortening will make a flaky pie crust, add it to a cookie recipe and you may have a waxy, artificial aftertaste. However, it is a good lard alternative for vegetarians, vegans, and those with religious restrictions on consuming pork.
Vegetarian And Vegan Butter Substitutes When Baking
If butter isn’t something you eat because of dietary restrictions, you can use a large variety of butter substitutes to take the place of butter in your baked good recipes. Depending on what you use, it will have a different effect of on the baked goods.
- Greek yogurt – Packed with protein, you can enrich your baked goods by adding Greek yogurt. It will add a velvety texture to your baked goods, which can be especially nice when it comes to cakes and muffins. We recommend using plain Greek yogurt so the flavor profile is not affected by the substitution. Make sure it is not regular yogurt, which is too thin to be a good butter substitute.
- Unsweetened applesauce – Using unsweetened applesauce in your baking will add a light, fluffy texture to your baked goods. With its natural sweetness, you can cut out up to a third of the amount of sugar called for in a recipe. However, if you want a flatter baked good like sugar cookies, don’t use applesauce. The extra fiber will cause your cookies to puff up instead of laying flat.
- Oils – As mentioned above, oils can be a good butter substitute for vegans and vegetarians. Depending on what you use, they will have a different effect on the overall flavor of your baked goods. However, all oils will make baked goods denser.
- Beans – Similar to oil, using pureed beans as a fat substitute will create a denser baked good. It is especially effective in fudge and brownies. However, unlike oil, beans bring a great amount of protein and fiber to your baked goods.
- Fruit purees – Like applesauce, fruit purees are packed with fiber and natural sweetness, allowing you to cut back on the required sugar in recipes. The flavor profile may change depending on what kind of fruit puree you use. Applesauce doesn’t alter a recipe much as it has a fairly neutral flavor, but purees of pumpkin, peach, prunes, and other fruits can alter the flavor and even the color of your baked goods.
- Tofu – You can’t beat tofu if you are looking for a low-calorie butter substitute, but you will lose the flavor butter imparts as tofu has a bland flavor. Tofu will need to be mashed and drained of water before measuring it for your baked goods. You may need to add more flour to a recipe where tofu is used in the baking to counteract the tofu’s watery makeup.
For most of these substitutes, you can do a 1:1 conversion with the required butter or oil in a recipe and be just fine. But for precision’s sake, we have included a substitute conversion chart to help you sub out butter and other fats when baking.
|Butter substitute||Butter:Substitute Ratio||Best For These Baked Goods|
|Greek yogurt||1:½||Cakes, bagels, muffins|
|Applesauce||1:½||Good for most baked goods (will fluff up)|
|Oils||1:¾||Brownies, dense cakes, fudge|
|Beans||1:¾||Fudge, brownies, dense cakes|
|Fruit purees||1:¾||Sweet baking, cookies, cakes|
|Tofu||1:½||Brownies, custards, quiches|
Whether you use butter or any other fat substitutes, you will want to use a Bosch mixer. You can speed up the baking process exponentially with a Bosch mixer and clean up is a breeze. So pick the right mixer for your baking needs and start enjoying the best kitchen tool on the market.