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Butter Substitutes in Baking – How to Retain the Taste without the Fat

Baking with butter

Butter is the one of the primary ingredients in baking. Most people hold the firm belief that their crusts and pastries won’t be as soft and flaky without butter. Baking, unlike cooking, is very precise. Any guesswork and you might end up with a failure of a dish. However, butter is full of saturated fat and will increase your LDL cholesterol levels.

An indulgence once in a while isn’t a sin, but if you’re using butter in your day to day baking, you might be taking in more saturated fat than you intend to. One of the best ways to address this and still get delicious food is to replace butter entirely. You can do that by following the advice given below.


Butter Substitutes

Here’s a list of some tried and tested butter substitutes in baking that deliver great results. These ingredients are proven to easily deliver moist cakes to flaky pastries:

  • Olive Oil
  • Applesauce
  • Vegetable Shortening
  • Pumpkin Puree
  • Prunes Puree
  • Nut Butters
  • Coconut Oil
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Canola Oil
  • Margarine
  • Banana

These substitutes usually work well with all sorts of ingredients. You just need the right measurements and the right substitute for a particular recipe.


For Cakes

According to many experienced bakers, when it comes to cake, sticking to margarine or shortening would be the best idea. For dry or solid mixes, liquid substitutes like oil won’t work well. So if your cake calls for mixing butter with sugar, you’re better off using shortening or margarine. But if your cake has liquid ingredients like honey, maple syrup, golden syrup, etc, oil would mix in well.

The presence of a solid fat in such recipes is vital as they make the cake light and fluffy. You can substitute eggs with nut butters and fruit purees if you want to make a vegan cake. The fruit purees would give the cake the necessary moisture while oil, solid fats like peanuts, etc, would provide the lift.


For Pastries, Cookies, and Biscuits

Unfortunately, oil based replacements like olive oil won’t work well with these recipes. Pastries that contain yeast or baking ingredients, while using little to no sugar wouldn’t taste good with just oil to replace butter. For example, the baked products like biscuits, pie crusts, etc, wouldn’t have the same taste or the consistency.

Even if you add solid fats, as suggested above, to lift the batter, you won’t get the characteristic crisp texture. In such recipes, it’s important to use soy margarine, shortening, and similar products. Otherwise, you might end up with a cakey texture that would ruin your efforts.


Coconut Oil

Coconut oil might be called oil, but it does resemble butter in its structure. When it’s chilled, it turns solid, when it’s at room temperature, it turns semi-solid, and when it’s heated, it turns to liquid state. Because of this, coconut oil can be used in almost all recipes that call for butter.

Only thing you need to bear in mind is that coconut oil has a much higher melting point than butter. You need to make sure that the baking process is altered according to the consistency of the oil. Because coconut oil melts so quickly, it’s not used in pastry recipes.

However, you can cook scones, shortbreads, cookies, cakes, etc, with coconut oil. The ingredient just adds another dimension to the dish. It gives you the same texture and taste that would make you want to bake the dish repeatedly.


There are several recipes available online that would show you how to bake a variety of dishes with these butter substitutes. Almost all of them are delicious and healthy. At Ganache Patisserie, we highly recommend that you try at least some of them. Contact us for french cakes, savoury treats and other baked goods for everyday consumption as well as for special occasions.

Thanks for reading,
Ganache Patisserie
(02) 9967 2882