Baking breads with shortening in place of butter can aid dieters in controlling consumption of saturated fats. An ounce of vegetable-derived shortening contains a mere 7 grams of saturated fat, compared to the 14 grams in an ounce of butter. Due to significant differences in flavor and water content, inexperienced bakers should use bread recipes designed for the use of shortening.
Substituting shortening for butter when baking yeast breads at home is complicated the most by the differences in water content between the products. A dough containing a high percentage of moisture will rise more quickly than a dry dough. Butter contains about 20% water content on average, while shortening is purely fat. Highly experienced bakers can switch between using shortening and butter while baking to adjust the rising time of yeast breads according to their scheduling needs.
Shortening lacks any strong flavor that can be detected in the final product. Avoid substituting shortening in recipes which prescribe the usage of salted butter, as this can result in a flat-tasting final product. If shortening must be substituted for salted butter, add an additional 1/8 teaspoon per 1/4 cup of butter. Shortening is ideal for use in flavored, savory yeast breads. To enhance the taste, add chopped garlic cloves or rosemary to the dough or sprinkle salt on top before baking.
Beginning and intermediate bakers can find success in baking sweet, quick breads with shortening. Breads which do require the addition of yeast or a rising process are less likely to be disrupted by small changes in water content. To prevent a dense, heavy final product, thoroughly cream the butter and sugar together. Use a hand-mixer for 30 to 60 seconds or beat with a fork or whisk. If the final product tastes flat, use a mixture of butter and shortening to improve the flavor.
Using shortening in place of butter when baking yeast bread in a machine can be a challenging feat for even experienced home bakers. A machine is timed to begin baking after an established rising cycle, which can lead to a denser final product. If the recipe used prescribes melted butter, avoid using solid shortening. Ensure that the product is between 80 and 100 degrees F to avoid further disruptions to the rising cycle, per the recommendation of baking supply and education company Prepared Pantry.
Jasmine Henry has been a professional freelance writer since 2008. She has published literary criticism in the academic journal "The Birch." Henry holds a Bachelor of Arts in Russian and environmental science from Willamette University in Salem, Ore.