Monday, August 18, 2008

Butter or Shortening? The Debate Continues

A long standing, and often passionate issue among devoted bakers (read: **crazies**), is the use of butter vs. shortening in pie crusts as well as margarine and Lard (leaf lard vs. suet? You decide). In fact, I can think of nothing that induces more pie-in-the-face online and offline mayhem than these few simple ingredients.

Take this heated online debate.

My favorite quote with such adamant use of ALL CAPS and !!!! POINTS!
"I always use LARD and ICE COLD water!. it is better than anything else I have tried. Regarding kosher baking, 'CRISCO' is certified by the OU and is better than margarine. 86 the butter and margarine for pie crust!"

Local food writer and avid baker, Nancy Rommelmann weighs in with her personal experience here.

Moi? Well, I fall into the butter only camp. It's taken me several years to perfect my recipe (including a hands-on class with Shuna Lydon herself), but Crisco just doesn't do it for me in both baking satisfaction and taste and lard is too alienating to vegetarians and my Jewish friends. However, I won't judge anyone if they want to use the solid-greasy, chemically produced trans-fat laden Crisco stuff. Seriously.

My Mom, an excellent pie baker if ever there was one, even uses these weird pre-made pie crust sticks. So weird that you can't even find them online. She's the only one I know who uses them. Her pies, including the crust, are always excellent BTW.

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