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Thread: Butter vs. margarine in baking?

  1. #1

    Butter vs. margarine in baking?

    I've never figured out an aswer to this question. I want to make some peanut butter brownies tonight for my daughter, but the recipe calls for margarine and I only have stick butter. I really do not want to go to the store, so I'm going to make them anyway. I don't think it should be a problem.

    What is the difference between using the two, aside from fat/calorie content? Does margarine result in a chewier product, while butter makes it more moist?

    Can anyone help?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Southern California
    I'm not sure about the answers to your questions but I will tell you one thing, anytime I'm making baked goods for friends, I always use butter (even if the recipe calls for margarine) because butter is so rich and tastes much better. Using butter rather than margarine in those recipes did not affect the texture at all.

    Good luck.

  3. #3
    I find that margarine usually produces a softer texture, and butter a crisper texture in cookies, but butter should work fine for the brownies.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Oxford CT
    I use butter for all my baked goods except in my apple bread. I tried substituting butter for marg. and I found the bread to be too moist and rich.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    North of the ocean, South of the Freeway, Mississippi Gulf Coast
    I like making homemade biscuits, and from time to time, I make them without telling my dad whether I've used margarine or butter, just to see if he notices a difference.

    He'll practically inhale the entire batch I make with butter, but always seems to eat the margarine batch more slowly. It isn't that he doesn't eat the margarine ones, or enjoy them, he just doesn't scarf them down quite as quickly.

    The margarine ones seem a bit less tender. They also lack a certain something in aroma, or maybe it's that the butter ones are so divinely fragrant, even when at room temperature.

    I haven't managed to make a scientific study of the matter, to see exactly how many of each type he'll eat in a given time period, mostly because I keep eating the biscuits being studied, LOL!
    A fruit is a vegetable with looks and money.
    Plus, if you let fruit rot, it turns into wine,
    something Brussels sprouts never do.
    P. J. O'Rourke, humorist

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    North Texas
    Apparently, it has to do with the sensitivity of one's tastebuds and mouth. Butter and margarine are always interchangable. The only reason recipes call for margarine is because some people think it is healthier. I would theorize the slight difference in taste or texture is probably due to one's sensitivity to it. I've never known margarine to be recommended over butter in baking for texture or taste.

  7. #7
    Actually, on Good Eats Alton Brown did three chocolate chip cookie recipes yielding different results - crunchy, chewy, puffy. In the episode he talks about the different results you get with different fats. Margarine and butter have different melting points so each will yield different results. His point was to vary the fat used based on what results you want.

    From a health standpoint despite concerns about trans fatty acids, the American Heart Association still recommends using margarine in place of butter. As someone with a family history of heartBelow are their recommendations:

    AHA Recommendation

    Because butter is rich in both saturated fat and cholesterol , it's potentially a highly atherogenic food (a food that causes the arteries to be blocked). Most margarine is made from vegetable fat and provides no dietary cholesterol. The more liquid the margarine, i.e., tub or liquid forms, the less hydrogenated it is and the less trans fatty acids it contains. On the basis of current data, the American Heart Association recommends that consumers follow these tips:

    Use naturally occurring, unhydrogenated oil such as canola or olive oil when possible.
    Look for processed foods made with unhydrogenated oil rather than hydrogenated or saturated fat.
    Use margarine as a substitute for butter, and choose soft margarines (liquid or tub varieties) over harder, stick forms. Shop for margarine with no more than 2 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon and with liquid vegetable oil as the first ingredient.
    French fries, donuts, cookies and crackers are examples of foods that are high in trans fatty acids.
    The American Heart Association's Nutrition Committee strongly advises that healthy Americans over age 2 limit their intake of saturated fat to 7-10 percent of total calories and their total fat intake to no more than 30 percent of total calories. If people limit their daily intake of fats and oils to about 5-8 teaspoons, they aren't likely to get an excess of trans fatty acids

  8. #8
    Thanks for all of the information. I just love the help that I've received on these boards. The brownies turned out wonderfully, by the way, although they weren't as chewy as the title claimed they would be. I think it probably had something to do with the substitution. These were much denser and more cake-like. And they were so rich that there is still half a pan left, unusual for my household!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    North Texas
    I had one other thought. I was wondering how that new heart-healthy alternative Benecol works in baked goods.

  10. #10


    I checked the Benecol website and according to them, you can use the Benecol regular spread in baking. I haven't tasted Bencol so I'm not sure what kind of results you would get.

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