The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Subbing butter for shortening

Mary Clare's picture
Mary Clare

Subbing butter for shortening

I know butter has some water content and that shortening has not.  I usually substitute butter for shortening and not worry about the water.  I'm wondering if the butter was heated until the water evaporated (like making clarified butter) and the resulting butter cooled, would this give nearly identical results to shortening?  If not, why not?




FoodFascist's picture

Good quality butter is around 72-82.5% fat. Certain naughty manufacturers can add more water or whey into butter, thereby cutting their costs. If you want near-waterless butter, you could melt it, then pour into a tall transparent container and let it cool again until the fat solidifies. If using a thin drinking glass, make sure to hold it over a boiling kettle first, otherwise the hot liquid poured into it could crack it. The butter and water (or rather, whey) will separate into distinct layers, with water at the bottom and the lighter fat on the top. This way you can separate butter from water (and also check exactly how much whey was in your butter). You probably won't make a 100% waterless butter but it'll be close enough.

If you have a very small baking tin with a push bottom, you could use that too, but it really has to have a very small diameter.

this method is easier than heating till water evaporates, because you'll be wasting much less electricity (and time!) and also no butter will be lost through evaporation alongside water.