Veganbaking.net - The Hows and Whys of Vegan Baking
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How to Make Vegan Shortening Mattie

Written by Mattie    
 
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Vegan Shortening

As I progress in my vegan baking adventures I strive for quality ingredients that give me as much control as possible over the flavors and textures I'm trying to convey. I also love breaking foods down to their most basic components and building them back up again, learning and getting unnecessarily excited along the way. For some people it's TV. For me it's this sort of food hacking. 

I recently decided that I wanted to create a high quality vegan butter because I began to tire of the store bought yellow goop that I was so steadily relying on. What if I don't want all that diacetyl flavoring, beta carotene coloring, palm oil and who knows what else? It reminded me of one of my favorite Saturday Night Live skits from the 80's: Happy Fun Ball. "Don't taunt Happy Fun Ball". My vegan butter experimentation ended up being more successful than I imagined. What if I made my own shortening?

Understanding shortening

What is shortening and why is it used in baking? Shortening is flavorless and consists of 100% fat. It's designed to be used in baking applications where it's ability to remain solid at room temperature can benefit the ease of preparation of the food as well as the consistency of the dough.

Shortening is frequently used to inhibit gluten formation doughs such as in pie crusts, puff pastry and short bread. The compounds that form gluten, glutenin and gliadin, have trouble binding together in the presence of oil because they get slippery. This causes the gluten bonds to become short. This is why a crumbly dough such as a shortbread or pie crust is known as a short dough. While we're on the subject of oil in doughs, this is also why adding a couple Tablespoons of any type of oil to a loaf of bread dough will cause the loaf to bake up more soft and tender.

When there are streaks of shortening or other fats in doughs such as pie crusts or puff pastry the fat separates the layers of dough from each other, allowing them to further separate as they trap rising steam and gas during baking. Shortening does this job well because unlike vegan butter which contains water that would activate some of the gluten, shortening is 100% fat so the gluten bonds are minimized as much as possible. This results in a crispy, crunchy, flaky goodness. Using a fat that is solid at room temperature such as shortening is critical because a liquid oil would be soaked up by the flour and evenly dispersed in the dough too evenly during mixing which would result in a crumbly, mealy finished product.

Applying shortening food science to vegan shortening

It wasn't until I started Veganbaking.net that I realized that the US is one of the only countries in the world where shortening can be easily found. This recipe allows you make shortening if you're unable to find it in your area. It also gives you the option of avoiding regular store-bought shortening which is based on palm oil. As of this writing, palm oil is currently associated with rainforest destruction in Sumatra as well as other places. Isn't it ironic that a vegan product can negatively affect environmental and animal welfare? Coconut oil is still flown half way around the world but at least it's a step in the right direction.

I recommend refined coconut oil in this recipe. Refined coconut oil has been deodorized so it doesn't contain coconut flavor or aroma. If you want a strong coconut flavor in your baked item than go with unrefined coconut oil by all means.

A Note of Caution Coconut oil melts at about 77F (25C) so if you're going to be using this shortening in frostings and other preparations where it's not being baked into actual products like pie crust, and the temperature exceeds that temperature, the shortening will melt and your frosting will slide down your cake. If you do need things like frostings to be more temperature stable and similar to traditional frostings, I recommend a version of this vegan shortening that's based on deodorized cocoa butter which is forthcoming.

Learn more about the melting temperatures of fats.

Vegan Shortening Recipe

¾ cup refined coconut oil

1) Melt and mix your fats

Melt the coconut oil in a microwave so it's barely melted and as close to room temperature as possible. Measure it and add it and the canola oil to a food processor. Making smooth shortening is dependent on the mixture solidifying as quickly as possible after it's mixed. This smoothness depends on the fats solidifying before they get a chance to separate. This is why it's important to make sure your coconut oil is as close to room temperature as possible before you mix it with the canola oil.

2) Transfer the Vegan Shortening to a mold and freeze

Process for 1 minute, scraping down the sides halfway through the duration. Pour the mixture into a mold such as an ice cube tray and place it in the freezer to solidify. An ice cube mold works well. The vegan shortening should be ready to use in about an hour. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months or wrapped in plastic wrap in the freezer for up to 2 years. This recipe makes 1 cup, 215 grams, or the equivalent of 2 sticks Vegan Shortening.

Vegan Shortening


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Hi....

I'm new to vegan baking for this few months. I have a question regarding this shortening. Here in my country, the room temperature is about 35-37 Celcius. It's rather hard to find a coconut oil that is not liquid. Is there any other solution? I've been trying to figure it out this past month.
Thank you so much.
cenique-jegeg Reviewed by cenique-jegeg September 20, 2014
Top 50 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (2)

The coconut oil

Hi....

I'm new to vegan baking for this few months. I have a question regarding this shortening. Here in my country, the room temperature is about 35-37 Celcius. It's rather hard to find a coconut oil that is not liquid. Is there any other solution? I've been trying to figure it out this past month.
Thank you so much.

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is this shortening suitable for making fondant?
Reviewed by mehak June 11, 2014

is this shortening suitable for making fondant?

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does have to be refined coconutoil?
Reviewed by Cliff April 07, 2014

does have to be refined coconutoil?

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I've been looking for the real natural vegan shorting in my country for so long,
and now, this is it! Tks for the magical recipe :D
Rating 
 
5.0
Sandy Reviewed by Sandy January 26, 2014
Top 500 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (1)

I've been looking for the real natural vegan shorting in my country for so long,
and now, this is it! Tks for the magical recipe :D

Owner's reply

So glad you're able to make shortening now Sandy! Happy baking!

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Spectrum palm shortening and Tropical Traditions shortening are both sustainable and forest friendly. Both sites offer great information on the issue.
Reviewed by Jenni November 19, 2013

Spectrum palm shortening and Tropical Traditions shortening are both sustainable and forest friendly. Both sites offer great information on the issue.

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Great idea! now i can start experimenting an allergy free cake for my daughter.
i wish i could come up with recipes like that ha ha!
peace

Rating 
 
4.0
Reviewed by diana November 16, 2013

allergy free birthday cake for my daughter.

Great idea! now i can start experimenting an allergy free cake for my daughter.
i wish i could come up with recipes like that ha ha!
peace

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Hi Mattie, I am trying to do a vegan Fondant and it has been very hard to find out how to do it. One of the ingredients I would need is a shortening and I will use your recipe. However, today I went through the whole city trying to find refined coconuts oil but could just got unrefined. Do you think that there is any problem with that?
I thank in advance your advice!
Greetings,
Abril
abrilu Reviewed by abrilu November 02, 2013
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I just got unrefined cocosnuts oil

Hi Mattie, I am trying to do a vegan Fondant and it has been very hard to find out how to do it. One of the ingredients I would need is a shortening and I will use your recipe. However, today I went through the whole city trying to find refined coconuts oil but could just got unrefined. Do you think that there is any problem with that?
I thank in advance your advice!
Greetings,
Abril

Owner's reply

Hi Abril! There should be no problem- both refined coconut oil and unrefined coconut oil behave exactly the same in food. The only difference is that refined coconut oil is passed through a filter that removes the coconut oil aroma and flavor. Your fondant will probably just taste a little more like coconut than you planned. Yum! Hope it worked out!

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Thanks for this very helpful article! I'm now one step closer to understanding this shortening business. I've really struggled with it, and now I just have one question, I hope you can help me with.
Where I live, we have this 100% coconut oil block in stores. It's completely solid, almost too solid to use sometimes... It's mostly used to cook or "deep fry" these traditional Danish pastries in a pot, but I am wondering if this is all I need for, let's say, a vegan pie crust? Is it necessary to mix it with something else, as you have done above, when it's already a solid block of oil?
I'd really appreciate any help!
Line Reviewed by Line October 27, 2013
Top 500 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (1)

Coconut oil?

Thanks for this very helpful article! I'm now one step closer to understanding this shortening business. I've really struggled with it, and now I just have one question, I hope you can help me with.
Where I live, we have this 100% coconut oil block in stores. It's completely solid, almost too solid to use sometimes... It's mostly used to cook or "deep fry" these traditional Danish pastries in a pot, but I am wondering if this is all I need for, let's say, a vegan pie crust? Is it necessary to mix it with something else, as you have done above, when it's already a solid block of oil?
I'd really appreciate any help!

Owner's reply

Great question Line! I assume you live in Scandinavia? They also may have what you're talking about in Australia I believe. I'm pretty sure the coconut oil you're referring to is hydrogenated, which lowers the temperature at which it becomes solid, hence the extremely hard nature of this product.

Since I have no experience with this product, it's difficult to tell how it measures up to American-style shortening. Since the product you're referencing is 100% fat, it's probably extremely similar. I recommend substituting it where shortening is called for and see what happens. A pie crust would be the perfect place to start!

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Hi, I live in a hot climate, often above 25 degrees celsius, I'm trying to make cupcake frosting and the coconut oil version will melt if the weather is hot? How do I make vegan shortening with deodorised cocoa butter?
apple15 Reviewed by apple15 July 28, 2013
Top 500 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (1)

Hi, I live in a hot climate, often above 25 degrees celsius, I'm trying to make cupcake frosting and the coconut oil version will melt if the weather is hot? How do I make vegan shortening with deodorised cocoa butter?

Owner's reply

Hi apple15! The frosting will melt if the weather us much hotter than 25C. I'm still working on a cocoa butter version and don't have it finished yet. In the meantime, you can try making my latest recipe of Vegan Butter using a cocoa butter base that you should be able to use for a frosting instead of shortening: http://www.veganbaking.net/fats/vegan-butters/818-regular-vegan-butter-cocoa-butter-base
Good luck!

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I became vegan this year and have struggled to re-learn how to cook. I am so glad to have found your site today. Thank you so much for sharing your work! I'm making my first vegan pie crust today (for international pi day tomorrow), substituting your vegan butter and shortening in the Cook's Illustrated foolproof pie dough recipe that I used for years as an omnivore. I believe it will work!
Rating 
 
5.0
Reviewed by Amy March 13, 2013

You're the vegan Alton Brown!! Science + Art = del

I became vegan this year and have struggled to re-learn how to cook. I am so glad to have found your site today. Thank you so much for sharing your work! I'm making my first vegan pie crust today (for international pi day tomorrow), substituting your vegan butter and shortening in the Cook's Illustrated foolproof pie dough recipe that I used for years as an omnivore. I believe it will work!

Owner's reply

Thanks Amy! It should work fine. My pie crust is actually heavily influenced by the Cook's Illustrated version and I use this shortening in it all the time. Have a great Pi Day!

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Can you explain why you need to mix the coconut oil with another liquid oil? I have tried just using coconut oil by itself. I am interested in your vegan butter. I will find that recipe. Thanks!
Reviewed by Kris November 14, 2012

Can you explain why you need to mix the coconut oil with another liquid oil? I have tried just using coconut oil by itself. I am interested in your vegan butter. I will find that recipe. Thanks!

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I made this shortening for the vegan frosting recipe and it worked fantastically.

This is just my own personal opinion but there hasn't been enough research on coconut oil to deem it unhealthy. Regardless, this is a great way for one to take control and cut out the hydrogenated ingredients normally found in shortening.
Reviewed by Robert Cesaric October 15, 2012

I made this shortening for the vegan frosting recipe and it worked fantastically.

This is just my own personal opinion but there hasn't been enough research on coconut oil to deem it unhealthy. Regardless, this is a great way for one to take control and cut out the hydrogenated ingredients normally found in shortening.

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coconut oil is one of the most highly saturated and therefore one of the most unhealthy oils, vegan or not
Reviewed by Philfromcal April 30, 2012

How to make vegan shortening

coconut oil is one of the most highly saturated and therefore one of the most unhealthy oils, vegan or not

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Omg! Thank you so much! I've always stayed away from shortening...but I want to try making this! ^^
Rating 
 
5.0
Reviewed by Apple April 17, 2012

Omg! Thank you so much! I've always stayed away from shortening...but I want to try making this! ^^

Owner's reply

Thanks Apple! It's so easy!

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Can I use the shortening recipe in baking recipes that require butter? Can I whip it with an electric beater while making the cake batter? It is difficult to procure xanthan gum. It is so exorbitantly priced. I cannot make vegan butter solely due to this reason.

gemini16381 Reviewed by gemini16381 March 05, 2012
Top 50 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (4)

Can I use the shortening recipe in baking recipes that require butter? Can I whip it with an electric beater while making the cake batter? It is difficult to procure xanthan gum. It is so exorbitantly priced. I cannot make vegan butter solely due to this reason.

Owner's reply

Hi Gemini, This is definitely not recommended as a vegan butter substitute. Regular butter (and my vegan butters on this site) is about 78% fat, 18% water and 4% solids. Shortening is 100% fat so your recipes won't turn out right if used in the place of vegan butter.

Also, in the vegan butter recipes I call for lecithin for emulsification and xanthan gum for minimal foaming during whipping. Since my shortening recipe is just fat, it won't whip at all. For convenient vegan cake baking I recommend vegan recipes that don't require whipping. Good luck!

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I am not sure if this will work for me :( I live in the Caribbean where it is very hot and coconut oil is liquid at room temperature... maybe I will still try.
Reviewed by Danibelle March 03, 2012

I am not sure if this will work for me :( I live in the Caribbean where it is very hot and coconut oil is liquid at room temperature... maybe I will still try.

Owner's reply

Hi Danibelle,

This will totally work for you! Just skip the step where you melt the coconut oil- it's already been done for you by Mother Nature;) Regular shortening melts at around the same temperature as this one so it's all the same once it's solidified in your refrigerator.

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I am SO making this right away with light olive oil. You rock!
laurelvb Reviewed by laurelvb March 03, 2012
#1 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (16)

Gosh

I am SO making this right away with light olive oil. You rock!

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