Puff Pastry Shortenings

Puff pastry shortenings are firm like regular shortening.They are especially formulated for puff pastry and other doughs that form layers, such as Danish pastry.

Shortenings are manufactured to have certain textures and hardness. Butter, on the other hand,is a natural product that doesn't have these advantages. It is hard and brittle when cold and soft at room temperature, and it melts easily. Consequently, doughs made with butter are hard to handle. Margarine is a little easier to handle, but it has many of the same disadvantages.

On the other hand, butter and margarine have two major advantages.

1. Flavor.

Shortenings are intentionally flavorless, but butter has a highly desirable flavor.

2. Melting qualities.

Butter melts in the mouth. Shortenings do not. After eating pastries or icings made with shortening, one can be left with an unpleasant film of shortening coating the mouth.

For these reasons, many bakers and pastry chefs feel that the advantages of butter outweigh its disadvantages for some purposes.

Oils are liquid fats.They are not often used as shortening in baking because they spread through a batter or dough too thoroughly and shorten too much.Their usefulness in the bakeshop is limited primarily to greasing pans and proofing bowls, to deep-frying doughnuts, and to serving as a wash for some kinds of rolls.A few quick breads and cakes use oil as a shortening.

Lard is the rendered fat of hogs. Because of its plastic quality, it was once highly valued for making flaky pie crusts. Since the development of modern shortenings,it is not often used in the bakeshop.

Sugars or sweetening agents are used for the following purposes in baking:

• To add sweetness and flavor.

• To create tenderness and fineness of texture by weakening the gluten structure.

• To increase keeping qualities by retaining moisture.

• To act as creaming agents with fats.

We customarily use the term sugar for regular refined sugars derived from sugar cane or beets.The chemical name for these sugars is sucrose. However, other sugars

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