Do you ever have trouble figuring out which fat to use for your holiday baking? I know I do. I want to find the right balance between a great tasting baked good and making a healthy choice for myself and my family.
When I walk through the cooler section in the grocery store, I notice many different fats at a variety of prices. Butter is more expensive than stick margarine, and the tubs of margarine vary in price from less expensive than butter to more expensive than butter. Then, when I head down the baking aisle, I see oils that vary from vegetable and canola oil that are less expensive to olive oils that are more expensive. I also find vegetable shortening and lard in the baking aisle.
Here are some simple guidelines for picking fats that I use at holiday time and throughout the year:
- Vegetable oils like corn, soy, and canola are made from healthy fats so they are great to use in salad dressing, sautéing and roasting vegetables, marinades, etc. They also have a low cost per serving.
- Butter and stick margarines are best for baking cookies and cakes because they hold air in a product when you cream them, make products more tender, and give pie crusts that beautiful golden brown color. Butter works well when making candy.
- Small amounts of spreads (See the blog from a while back, What should I buy as a spread?), butter or stick margarine can be used as toppings for rolls, toast, or bagels. Personally, I like butter the best, but, since it is more expensive and high in calories, I use it in moderation.
How do you deal with holiday baking?
PS If you want a great overview of how fats react in cooking the King Arthur site as a great article called Fats: the baker’s friend
Justine Hoover, MS, RD, LD