Monday, January 16, 2006

Tip 1: All about Fats

Since I haven't made anything in a couple days, I thought it would be neat to add some tips to the blog. Information about ingredients, bakeware and all things related to home baking. In order to bake most things, there is one ingredient that is crucial and that is fat, most commonly in the forms of butter (salted and unsalted) and vegetable shortening. Here are some interesting facts about this creamy yellow substance (and its white cousin) and why it is so important for bakers. (There may be a little science thrown in for fun too.)

  • butter adds flavour and influences the texture and moistness of baked goods-the "mouth feel"
  • fat tenderizes by coating flour, preventing it from absorbing water and developing gluten
  • creaming butter with sugar contributes to leavening - if mixing is kept to a minimum after the flour is added, the result will be a more tender product
  • butter is only 80% solid fat and has a low melting point
  • vegetable shortening is 100% fat and has a high melting point (great for pie crust)
  • vegetable shortening has no flavour but cookies made with shortening hold their shape better than those made with butter
  • butter should be at room temperature when baking because the "creaming" process is very important since this is when air is incorporated into the dough
  • sugar crystals have sharp edges that cut into the solid fat and create air cells. If the butter is too soft, these pockets of air will have nothing to hang on to.

That's just a small synopsis of our friend Fat. I'm sure I could have added lots more information but I think you get the picture. If you're interested in reading more about butter (and who wouldn't be), I've listed the books I used for this post.

Beaver, Wanda Wanda's Pie in the Sky 2002

Boyle, Tish The Good Cookie 2002

Robin Hood, Home Baking 2004

Steel, Pamela Great Canadian Cookies 2000

1 comment:

Canadian Baker said...

Thanks for stopping by Alan! I'm glad the post was useful to you.