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Doughnuts: Shortening vs. Butter

Airo Dec 31, 2010 01:49 PM

I am looking to finally experiment with doughnut recipes. It will be my first time making yeast dough doughnuts, although I am not unfamiliar with making other yeast dough desserts (sticky buns, sweet rolls, and so forth).

When I look up recipes for doughnuts, I notice that in the dough-making stage, many require the use of shortening over butter.

Now I know shortening, in some recipes, makes for a flakier and crumblier texture, but in doughnuts why would shortening be preferable to butter? Although both are fats, do they both produce different textural results in doughnut recipes?

I would like to use butter over shortening (for matters of taste and wanting a natural and healthier ingredient), but if shortening is important for an ideal texture in doughnuts, what other natural and tasty oil/fat can be used to produce the same results?

Thanks in advance for any advice or tips.

  1. LeroyT Jan 14, 2011 05:35 PM

    palm shortening is natural, though in the end you're subbing fat for fat. Shortenings are 100% fat, butter is, at most, 86% or so, so it's a relative diet food!

    1. sarahjay Dec 31, 2010 08:06 PM

      When I make doughnuts I use butter. I use Alton Brown's yeasted doughnut recipe and sub in butter for the shortening. I've never had a problem with it. I also do a pumpkin version of the same and use butter in that as well. I know that doughnut shops tend to use shortening, and in California a shortening with trans fats can only be used in doughnut dough (and prepackaged items)

      8 Replies
      1. re: sarahjay
        Airo Jan 14, 2011 12:43 PM

        Are you saying that in California, if I opened up a bakery that made doughnuts, I'd be required by local law to both make and fry them with and in shortening?

        1. re: Airo
          chefj Jan 14, 2011 02:37 PM

          NO you would not be allowed to use artificial trans fat products at all in California as of 1/2011

          1. re: chefj
            ipsedixit Jan 14, 2011 05:34 PM

            What's really amazing about the CA (Artificial) Trans Fat Ban is that it does not apply to school cafeterias.

            [smacks forehead]

            1. re: ipsedixit
              chefj Jan 15, 2011 09:18 AM

              It does apply to schools.
              We rent a kitchen form a school and the the health department made it clear that all tras fats needed to be gone from the kitchen at least a year ago.

              1. re: chefj
                ipsedixit Jan 15, 2011 09:34 AM

                Not according to this.


                1. re: ipsedixit
                  chefj Jan 15, 2011 09:53 AM

                  It says that they "already prohibited from serving trans fats ..... pursuant to the passing of SB 490...as of 7/1/2009"
                  So they preceded the the current ban already.

          2. re: Airo
            sarahjay Jan 14, 2011 08:55 PM

            no, i mean that the only place where artificial trans fat products can be used is in a doughnut shop in the doughnut dough. Even after the switch. It's one of the loopholes. It also doesn't apply to prepackaged foods.

            1. re: sarahjay
              chefj Jan 15, 2011 09:15 AM

              As of Jan. 1st the law applies to bakeries and doughnut shops as well.

        2. ipsedixit Dec 31, 2010 02:07 PM

          Depends on what type of donuts (e.g. texture) you want to make.

          You want a flakier donut use shortening.

          If you trying to make a cake-y type of donut (moist and denser), use butter.

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