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Old 02-29-2008, 08:43 PM   #21
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Crisco..........bad
Butter all the way!
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Old 02-29-2008, 08:57 PM   #22
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The traditional Southern "shortening" has always been lard. Biscuits, pie crusts, etc. all taste much better when lard is used. They also seem to be flakier.
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Old 02-29-2008, 11:11 PM   #23
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I think margarine was specifically meant to substitute for butter. Whereas shortening is a more general fat to be used in cooking.

So preference based? I wouldn't spread lard on a piece of toast, though butter i would. Its probably the same thing with shortening and margarine.
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Old 03-01-2008, 04:44 PM   #24
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to me, shortening usually meant Crisco Shortening in the can but it can mean butter too.
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Old 03-01-2008, 08:37 PM   #25
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Different fats are used in baking for the differences in their behavior (mainly the melting point) as well as their flavors. Professional bakers have a wide variety of specially blended fats that they can choose from to get the specific characteristics they are looking for. The average home cook is limited to butter, margarines, shortening or animal fats (beef fat, lard, etc).

For example - pie crusts. If you make a pie crust with only butter it will be tender but not flaky. If you make it with all lard it will be flaky but not very tender. If you use both butter and lard then you get tender and flaky. It depends on the melting points of the fats. Butter melts at a low temp so it absorbs into the dough before it has a chance to set. Lard melts at much higher temp and therefore keels the layers of dough separated long enough for the dough to set before it melts.

Shortening is generally hyrdogenated vegetable oil (although some blends can contain some added animal fats) has a melting point somewhere between butter and lard, a characteristic that can be used to some advantage in some situations. Another characteristic or shortening is that it contain millions of tiny air bubbles. When heated, the air bubbles expand before the dough sets and the fat melts - adding lightness, humm ... a degree of leavening might be another way to say it.

Margarine: There are so many different ways to make margarine it is hard to know if any particular one can be used in baking as a substitute for shortening or not. Some contain animal fats, some don't - some are hydrogenated, some aren't - some use gellatin as an emulsifier, some don't - you get the picture. It was created as a substitute for butter (butter spoils quickly and Napolean wanted a substitute that had the flavor but a longer shelf life for his army).

Lard: Lard comes in two basic forms - hydrogenated and not-hydrogenated. Hydrogenated lard contains some trans-fat and has the soft, creamy consistency of shortening. If it's not hydrogenated it does not contain any trans fats.

Trans-Fats: Speaking of trans fats ... some of you may not want to hear this, but, the fats from ruminant animals (cattle, sheep, goats, bison, buffalo, etc) are 1%-5% Trans-Fat - and that includes the fats in their products like their milk, butter and cheese. Oops!

But the Label Says 0g Trans Fat!: Yep, and that is true - based on the food labeling laws currently on the books in the United States. But, that doesn't mean it doesn't contain some trans fat. Even Crisco, somwehere in the bowels of their website admits that their 0 Grams trans fat shortening is not trans fat free (or at least it was somewhere in there about a year ago). The nutrition label informnation is based on a serving size (for fats this is generally 1 tablespoon). All "0g trans fat" means is that for that serving size, the amount of trans fat is less than 0.5g - and that could actually be 0.499g ... just as long as it is less than 0.5g). Manufactures/producers don't have to round up - and they are free to round down.

Now, as for Michelemarie's original question - it depends on the recipe.
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Old 03-01-2008, 09:32 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Michael in FtW View Post
Different fats are used in baking for the differences in their behavior (mainly the melting point) as well as their flavors. Professional bakers have a wide variety of specially blended fats that they can choose from to get the specific characteristics they are looking for. The average home cook is limited to butter, margarines, shortening or animal fats (beef fat, lard, etc).

For example - pie crusts. If you make a pie crust with only butter it will be tender but not flaky. If you make it with all lard it will be flaky but not very tender. If you use both butter and lard then you get tender and flaky. It depends on the melting points of the fats. Butter melts at a low temp so it absorbs into the dough before it has a chance to set. Lard melts at much higher temp and therefore keels the layers of dough separated long enough for the dough to set before it melts.

Shortening is generally hyrdogenated vegetable oil (although some blends can contain some added animal fats) has a melting point somewhere between butter and lard, a characteristic that can be used to some advantage in some situations. Another characteristic or shortening is that it contain millions of tiny air bubbles. When heated, the air bubbles expand before the dough sets and the fat melts - adding lightness, humm ... a degree of leavening might be another way to say it.

Margarine: There are so many different ways to make margarine it is hard to know if any particular one can be used in baking as a substitute for shortening or not. Some contain animal fats, some don't - some are hydrogenated, some aren't - some use gellatin as an emulsifier, some don't - you get the picture. It was created as a substitute for butter (butter spoils quickly and Napolean wanted a substitute that had the flavor but a longer shelf life for his army).

Lard: Lard comes in two basic forms - hydrogenated and not-hydrogenated. Hydrogenated lard contains some trans-fat and has the soft, creamy consistency of shortening. If it's not hydrogenated it does not contain any trans fats.

Trans-Fats: Speaking of trans fats ... some of you may not want to hear this, but, the fats from ruminant animals (cattle, sheep, goats, bison, buffalo, etc) are 1%-5% Trans-Fat - and that includes the fats in their products like their milk, butter and cheese. Oops!

But the Label Says 0g Trans Fat!: Yep, and that is true - based on the food labeling laws currently on the books in the United States. But, that doesn't mean it doesn't contain some trans fat. Even Crisco, somwehere in the bowels of their website admits that their 0 Grams trans fat shortening is not trans fat free (or at least it was somewhere in there about a year ago). The nutrition label informnation is based on a serving size (for fats this is generally 1 tablespoon). All "0g trans fat" means is that for that serving size, the amount of trans fat is less than 0.5g - and that could actually be 0.499g ... just as long as it is less than 0.5g). Manufactures/producers don't have to round up - and they are free to round down.

Now, as for Michelemarie's original question - it depends on the recipe.

that is informative, thank you for posting it.
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Old 03-02-2008, 01:16 AM   #27
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isn't flaky/tender dependent on the method of dough construction?
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Old 03-02-2008, 11:32 AM   #28
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isn't flaky/tender dependent on the method of dough construction?


It depends on both. Michael's info is correct, but there is more to the equation as well. It is important not to "work" the dough too much no matter what fat you use. Thats also why pastry recipes call for cold fat to be cut up and cold water to be used as binder. If you warm the fat and it starts melting it doesn't get to do that in the oven and the end result suffers a bit.
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Old 03-02-2008, 12:40 PM   #29
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It depends on both. Michael's info is correct, but there is more to the equation as well. It is important not to "work" the dough too much no matter what fat you use. Thats also why pastry recipes call for cold fat to be cut up and cold water to be used as binder. If you warm the fat and it starts melting it doesn't get to do that in the oven and the end result suffers a bit.
that's true.
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Old 03-03-2008, 06:41 PM   #30
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I guess shortening is in the eye of the beholder, because Shortening bread, the kind mammy's little babies love, is made from:

2 cups all-purpose flour
teaspoon cinnamon
teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoons baking soda
cup buttermilk
cup plus 2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
1 cup molasses
1 egg, slightly beaten
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