The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Puff Pastry. Subsituting Shorting For Butter

kah22's picture
kah22

Puff Pastry. Subsituting Shorting For Butter

I've just started to make rough puff pastry (haven't tried the real thing yet!) and I'm reasonably satisfied with my results.

However I was reading in a copy of 'Professional Baking 4th Edition,' that:

Butter is the preferred fat for rolling in because of its flavor and melt-inthe-
mouth quality. Special puff pastry shortening is also available. This
shortening is easier to work because it is not as hard when refrigerated and
because it doesn’t soften and melt at warm temperatures as easily as butter
does. It is also less expensive than butter.

Is this special puff pastry shortenig available in the main UK supermarkets and if so what name does it go under? I'd be interested in trying it out just to see what the difference is.

As always many thanks for your replies.

Kevin 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Kevin,

The term "Shortening" in the UK is usually used for fats used to make short pastry...eg. TREX.

Manufacturers in the UK baking industry have access to something known as Puff Pastry Margarine to make puff pastes.

Honestly?   Stick with butter; the margarine is gack!   I also don't know if it is even available at retail.

Best wishes

Andy

kah22's picture
kah22

Hi Andy and thanks for the replies.

Kevin

golgi70's picture
golgi70

Puff pastry shortening is gross. Use unsalted butter.  High quality if possible works best. Ie plugra, dunpak, Strauss. Hi fat eutopean style. This is a better experiment. 

 

Happy laminating

 

josh

Sjadad's picture
Sjadad

Only butter tastes like butter. Puff pastry contains so few ingredients (flour, butter, water, salt), so if you're going to the trouble to make it yourself, you should use the absolute best ingredients you can find. 

Butter melts at a temperature a few degrees lower than body temperature. Shortening melts a few degrees higher than body temperature. That's why when you eat something made with shortening it makes your mouth and tongue feel like they're coated with a waxy film. When you eat something made with butter it literally melts in your mouth. And the difference in flavor between the two isn't even close. 

The book you reference (I own a copy) is aimed at professionals, i.e. people with businesses to run who need to make profits. The only reason professionals and commercial bakeries use shortening is because it costs a lot less than butter. 

Please, please use real butter. 

kah22's picture
kah22

Hi guys and thanks for the replies.Of course I intend to stick with butter, we make lovely butter here in Ireland, I'll stick my neck out and say the best in Europe.My main reason for asking about the puff pastry shortening was just that I wanted to see what it turned out like, it's my inquisitive nature!Kevin

Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

Butter is best as we know...but ...I have had good results with lard.   I know...yuck.   I would never suggest this for croissants but is is quite nice for your more savory things like Cornish pasties, or meat pies.

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

There's lard in buttery rowies, something I absolutely love!

sournewb71's picture
sournewb71

As far as I understand the reason butter is used is because it creates the "Puff" in puff pastry.  When you make puff pastry you have many layers of dough and butter.  When you bake puff pastry in the oven, the water portion of the butter escapes as steam and pushes the layers up.  Using shortening instead of butter would probably create something that isn't puff pastry :).

Shortening isn't an evil thing as long as you use non-hydrogenated versions.  Plant based would be palm shortening, animal based would be free range lard.  Stay away from Crisco.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

I routinely use 1/2 the butter called for in normal puff paste and make make one more turn.  It works very well puff wise,  has half the fat and you can eat twice as many!  Nothing wrong with that!

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

Aside from cost, the other reason that commercial bakers use shortening is that it remains solid at a wider range of temperatures than butter, so it is more foolproof.  Focus your energy on temperature control, which is everything in working with butter, and you will have the satisfaction of gaining a sense of mastery and skill, as well as a delicious, rewarding puff pastry.