In attempting to make my baked goods as wholesome and nutritious as possible, I do what I can to avoid butter. It’s not that butter isn’t all natural, but it does have quite a bit of saturated fat and cholesterol – and every little bit counts when trying to healthify a sweet treat! So instead, I try to look for or create recipes that use vegetable oil – much lower in saturated fat and no cholesterol – for the fat. This usually works great.
But sometimes a solid fat is better for what you’re making. In baking, solid fats – like butter – can do things liquid fats – like oil – can’t. They hold air bubbles when beaten and set back up again after being heated and getting melty in an oven. These properties affect the texture of your baked goods and are the reason most experts don’t recommended substituting a liquid fat for a solid fat and vice versa.
So when only a solid fat will do, I go for a non-hydrogenated butter substitute or shortening. They’re lower in saturated fat than butter and are completely free of cholesterol. Awesome. But “non-hydrogenated” is the really special part. Most butter substitutes or shortenings are made with partially hydrogenated oil, which is just code for trans fat. “Non-hydrogenated” means these guys have zero trans fat. Whoo hoo!
I’ve had great results with Earth Balance products. They make vegan buttery sticks and natural shortening sticks. Both are made from a blend of soybean, palm, canola and olive oils – the buttery sticks just have additional flavorings to make them taste…buttery! Spectrum also makes a non-hydrogenated shortening from palm oil. That one comes in a tub.
Do you have a favorite butter substitute?