If you are a baker then it is essential for you to know what ingredients can be used as a substitute for others. A shortening is one of the most common ingredients used in any recipe; however, what if you ran out of it or just don’t want to use it?
There are simple substitutes that can be used to replace shortening depending on which qualities a baker desires.
What is a shortening?
A shortening is a solid fat used to break down protein molecules into shorter and softer units. When it is added to the recipe, it coats every other ingredient and prevents gluten molecules from cross-linking.
Why should I use a shortening?
Flour, which is made of wheat, contains a substance called gluten. A gluten is in charge of making the dough sticky and chewy. Adding a shortening to the dough changes the effect of gluten on the concoction. It makes it soft and crisp instead of firm and flaky. This is why it is called for in recipes for tarts, pies, cookies, and other baked goods that require a crust with the soft and crisp texture.
What can I use instead of shortening?
Generally, you can use any type of solid fat as a shortening. But saturated fat is the best type to use as it has the better ability to prevent gluten matrixes from forming.
Lard is an acceptable substitute for shortening. It is made from the rendered and clarified fat of the abdomen of a pig and contains about 40 percent of saturated fats. Ultimately, the difference between lard and shortening is that lard has a distinct subtle meaty flavor whereas shortening has no flavor.
To use lard instead of shortening, use a 1:1 replacement ratio. However, if you want to eliminate animal fat from your diet, then you may need to switch to other alternatives.
Butter can also be used in place of shortening. It is commonly made from the milk of a cow but can also be made from the milk of other mammals, such as a sheep, goat, or buffalo. It is made of 60 percent saturated fat and more importantly 15 percent water.
The water content in butter affects the texture of a baked good. When using butter instead of a shortening, the dough will tend to spread out more because of the additional moisture.
To use butter in place of shortening, use a 1:1/2 replacement ratio. For every one cup of shortening, use 1/2 cup of butter in its place.
Coconut oil can also be used as a shortening substitute. It is made of 90 percent saturated fat. Because of its high composition of saturated fat, it works better as a shortening compared to lard and butter. You do not have to worry about altering the flavor in the recipe. If you are not keen about coconut flavor, choose refined coconut oil instead of organic virgin coconut oil.
To use coconut oil as a shortening substitute, use a 1:1 replacement ratio. Use the same amount called for shortening in the recipe.