The purpose of fat in baking

And when it comes to baking and cooking, fat plays a pivotal role.  In cooking, fats such as butter, oil, and shortening add flavor, help transfer heat, are needed to deliver certain vitamins into our bodies, and bind foods which normally would not mix well.  In baked goods, fat makes the difference between a crispy or chewy cookie, between a light or dense cake, and between a hard or flaky scone.

What’s important to remember is that you don’t need to use as much fat as any recipe calls for, nor do you have to use the fats which aren’t as good for you or which you’re allergic to and can’t eat

You can cut down the fat

I’ve learned that most recipes call for twice as much fat as you really need, so if you simply want to cut down on the fat, just reduce the amount in any recipe by ¼ to ½ and check if you can taste or see the difference.

You can substitute “good” fat

If you’re trying to decrease your use of the “bad” fats such as butter, feel free to substitute a “good” fat.  The “good” fats such as grapeseed or safflower oil, essentially plant based fats, are easily substitutable in recipes.  As well, if you have a dairy allergy, the vegan “butters” work very well in traditional recipes.  What you need to remember, though, is that liquid fat should be replaced by another liquid and a solid fat by another solid.  If your recipe calls for you to cream butter and you try to replace it with canola oil, you should expect to have some problems with the substitution.

You can eliminate the fat

For anyone who does need to avoid fat altogether, though, you, too, can still bake those goodies you long to eat.  Fruit and cooked vegetable purees work wonders in many recipes, as does yogurt or buttermilk, presuming you have no dairy allergy.  The tip to keep in mind when using such substitutions is to use ½ as much of these products for the amount of fat called for in a recipe.


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