There are two types of fat used in baking, SOLID FAT, such as stick butter or margarine or shortening, or LIQUID, such as vegetable or olive oil. These types are extracted from either plants or animals, or manufactured. There are other ingredients that contribute fat to baked goods such as egg yolks, milk, chocolate, nuts and seeds, etc, but are discussed in their separate ingredient sections. See also HOW TO FRY - SAUTE, SHALLOW FRY, AND DEEP FRY

Solid fat, as in butter or shortening, is technically referred to as "plastic" fat because when beaten with sugar, such as in a buttercake recipe, they can hold air bubbles in their creamy, malleable mass. These types can also be used as a spacer, such as a pie crust or for leavening, such as in puff pastry.

Liquid fats, such as oil have different characteristics than solid ones and cannot hold air, and can be used in small amounts for healthy recipes.


TYPE FAT CONTENT -  remaining percent is water, milk solids, etc. FLAVOR - Butter has the most Cakes - tender or not Cookies - spread or not  Pies - flaky or not
Stick Butter 81% fat Yes Medium Some Medium
Lard 100%  No Most Least Most
Stick Margarine 80% Some Least Most Least
Shortening 100% No Most Least Most
"LIQUID" FATS          
Vegetable Oil 100% None Dense Cakelike None
Olive Oil 100% Some Dense Cakelike None
Clarified Butter 100% Some Dense Cakelike None

SARAH SAYS: I have done a lot of testing recipes with different types fats because of my developing hundreds of low-fat and fat-reduced recipes. Here, I share my first-hand knowledge and experiences with you, which may contradict other websites. But, my findings here have been seen with my own eyes!! Happy Baking, Sarah
PLEASE NOTE that when substituting a solid fat, such as butter with a liquid one (vegetable oil) or vice versa, adversely affects the taste or the texture of your recipe.

Melted butter cannot be substituted with a liquid fat because butter contains milk solids which set after the recipe has baked and cooled; oil doesn't. But you can use clarified butter for oil. The rule of thumb is to substitute one solid fat for another (ie: butter for shortening), and oil with another oil (vegetable oil for canola oil). That's because when a fat is solid, it acts differently in a baking recipe than a fat that's liquid.

If a recipe calls for butter, plastic (solid) fats such as butter, margarine or shortening with at least a 80% fat content work the best. Fats containing less than 80% in fat will adversely affect your recipe, such as lower calorie "spreads". Avoid their use.

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