Q: Can you substitute margarine for shortening in a cupcake recipe?
If the recipe calls for 3/4 cup of shortening, how much margarine would you use?
—Judy Levin, Chicago
A: Yes, you can. Just keep in mind there will likely be some texture and possibly flavor changes in the finished recipe.
You'll also need to use more margarine, about 20 percent more or roughly 1 cup, according to Siddharth Mangalore, an associate professor in baking and pastry at Kendall College in Chicago.
Why more margarine? Shortening is 100 percent fat, he said, while margarine, like butter, is a blend of fat and water — percentages vary depending on the type of margarine you use. Mangalore recommends using margarine in stick form because it will have more fat.
"Margarine in a tub is a little more spreadable so there is less fat and more moisture," he said.
The National Association of Margarine Manufacturers on its website notes soft spreads "with 60 percent or more oil can be used almost anywhere in recipes where butter or margarine is specified." But, the association does not recommend soft spread margarine for "baked goods that require precise amounts of fat and moisture, such as pastry crusts, unless a recipe has been developed specifically for that purpose."
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