The Fat and Thin of It
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“The Fat and Thin of It,” Ensign, June 1975, 43

The Fat and Thin of It

QUESTION: Often I find recipes that I like but have the problem of converting the measurements for liquid shortening or butter into measurements for solid fats or vice versa. Is there a simple conversion table that could be used?

ANSWER: There are no easy answers to substituting liquid shortening for solid fats in recipes. Oils, lard, and hydrogenated fats make a product more tender because they are approximately 100 percent fat, whereas butter and margarine are approximately 80 percent fat, 20 percent water, and added salt. Even though lard, oil, and hydrogenated fats have the same amount of fat per given quantities, they react differently in different baked products.

The following conversion table may be helpful:

1 cup butter equals:
1 cup margarine
7/8–1 cup lard plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
7/8 cup oil plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
7/8–1 cup hydrogenated shortening plus 1/2 teaspoon salt

In making pastry, a plastic moldable fat such as lard is usually considered best. Good pastry may be made with oil, but the pastry tends to be more dry, crumbly, greasy, and not as flaky. When butter or margarine is substituted for lard, one eighth more butter, less water, and less salt should be used. Margarine tends to produce less tender pastry than butter when the same amounts are used. La Vell Turner, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Brigham Young University