Shortening is often mistaken for a process in baking. It actually refers to a type of fat that you can mix into dough to make the crust of pies, tarts and other baked goods crumblier and softer. Although it sounds irreplaceable, there are a few products you can use as shortening substitute. Bakers want to replace shortening mostly because of its effects on your health but others look for substitutes simply because they don’t have any.
What is shortening?
Shortening starts off as vegetable oils extracted from plants like cottonseed or soybean. In the beginning, it is in liquid form. When it is hydrogenated, it becomes a solid substance similar to butter or lard. To add it to batter, it needs to be melted or creamed. It goes into the oven with all the other ingredients and produces freshly baked goods with phenomenal light texture. A shortening substitute, therefore, needs to contain ingredients that can replicate this texture that bakers love so much.
Why do you need a shortening substitute?
Shortening and its substitutes all contain an amount of saturated fat. Saturated fat is not good for your health. It can accumulate in the body and cause weight gain and increase your chances of developing conditions. Because shortening and other similar substances contain bad fats, it cannot be said that this solid fat is better for your health than its counterparts.
Bakers use shortening substitute because they want they want to enjoy the benefits of shortening on goods while improving on taste.
What are shortening substitutes?
Butter is the most common replacement for shortening. Some bakers use unsalted butter. Goods baked with butter are more flavorful and delicious. Using it as shortening substitute is a good idea because it improves taste, whereas shortening leans towards being tasteless. Using butter can cause a few changes in the end product. These goods tend to expand while cooking and make crusts a bit flaky. You can get the best of both worlds by using both butter and shortening in the same batter.
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Another great shortening replacement is lard, which is fat from pigs. Novice bakers are nervous about using lard because they think it might add a pork taste to treats. This is not necessarily something to worry about. You can hardly taste the pork in lard because of the rigorous processing it goes through. You should be careful when it comes to using lard as shortening substitute because it is likely to make crusts thinner and flaky instead of tender.
Should you substitute shortening?
Butter and margarine might be lower in calories compared to shortening but they contain trans fats than can be very bad for your health. Saturated fats becomes LDL cholesterol when it is digested, which can build up around your organs, especially the heart. LDL cholesterol on your heart can cause heart attacks and other life-threatening cardiovascular symptoms. If flavor is the only benefit you receive from using substitutes, it might be better to stick to shortening.