Butter can be creamed to create the same batter texture as shortening.

Can You Substitute Butter for Shortening in Italian Cream Cake?

by Samantha Lowe

Full of a rich flavor that shortening lacks, butter can replace the rendered, solid fat from plants or animals. Shortening is created by taking these normally liquid fats at room temperature and making them solid through processing. While both shortening and butter are typically used in Italian cream cake batter, the shortening can be completely substituted by butter.

1. Italian Cream Cake

While cakes have been found throughout human history, Italian cream cake is a relatively new dessert and did not originate in Italy at all. Rather, the cake was first mentioned in North American newspapers in 1913 and credited to an Italian residing in the Southern United States. Combining the texture of airy sponge cake, rich nut or berry sweet filling and rich layers of frosting, this cake relies on the fluffy texture of shortening and butter combined with the richness of eggs.

2. Substitution

Substitute the butter in an equal part for any shortening. For example, if the recipe calls for a 1/2 cup of shortening, use a 1/2 cup of butter instead. Measure out the butter in the same way, using a measuring cup and ensuring that there are no air bubbles in the cup after scooping the milk product in. Level off the top using a knife to ensure the most accurate amount is added. Substitute the butter for lightly greasing the baking dishes as well, using it in the same manner as shortening by using a small square of wax paper dipped in butter and smearing it all over the inside of the cooking container.

3. Creaming

Add the butter to the cake batter at the same time that you would normally add the shortening. Begin by creaming the butter using an electric mixer. Add the sugar and continue to mix until the combination is fluffy. Slowly add the eggs, whisking them in together, then drizzling them in while continuing to beat with the mixture. This emulsifies the batter, making it light and fluffy when baking. If the butter is not creamed properly, it will not have the same light and airy texture that shortening provides within baked cakes.

4. Alternatives

You also can use margarine in place of shortening in baking. Use the same ratio of substitution as butter -- using one part margarine for every one part shortening called for. Pureed fruits, such as prunes or applesauce also can be used, but they may change the flavor and color of the cake. Use one part pureed fruits in place of every two parts of shortening. Alternatively, use one part Greek yogurt or sour cream for every two parts shortening to retain the cake's moisture but reduce its fat.

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