Baking filter: reducing butter in bread (sweet) recipe
November 10, 2017 7:41 AM   Subscribe

I'm planning to bake a sweet holiday bread (German stollen), but the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of butter per loaf. Yummy, but a daunting amount of fat. If I reduced the amount of butter how would that change the bread (less moist, different texture, etc)? Is there a reasonable substitution I can make for part of the butter?
posted by duoshao to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In the past, I've successfully substituted unsweetened applesauce for some or all of the fats in baked goods. It never seemed to affect the taste, although the finished product dried out a bit faster than it would have with the butter. I've never made stollen, though, so YMMV.
posted by DrGail at 7:46 AM on November 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

not every baked good uses fat the same way, and some have a lot more leeway than others. A quickbread, for example, like a banana bread, you can do whatever you want pretty much, including substituting applesauce or prunes for some of the fat, and it will be edible. But a yeast bread is far more complicated and precise (and labor intensive - a shame to waste it on a questionable substitution.) I would not attempt to substitute anything if you're talking about a yeast bread.

If you want something low fat, find a low fat recipe. The recipes in Cooking Light are dependable and they cut fat back as far as it can be cut to still produce something tasty.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:57 AM on November 10, 2017 [8 favorites]

it will very much change the crumb and the flavor. I'd advise to find a different holiday bread to bake.
posted by JPD at 8:01 AM on November 10, 2017 [12 favorites]

Agreeing that subbing in applesauce will work fine in something like cookies or brownies, but the stollen dough really needs the butter for the texture to turn out right.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 8:10 AM on November 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

To be honest butter is kind of the whole point in stollen, but I have heard of people subbing in cottage cheese to reduce the fat a bit. Quarkstollen is a thing so it's not even entirely untraditional, and I think you'd have better luck sticking with dairy than trying to sub in applesauce for this particular specialty.
posted by halation at 8:14 AM on November 10, 2017 [3 favorites]

of course a quarkstollen is a quick bread, so the applesauce would probably work as well.

A panetone is a stollen relative that is yeast (or levain) risen that uses less fat.

I usually make a Gugelhupf at chirstmas which uses a sugar syrup to add richness to a less rich yeast dough.
posted by JPD at 8:25 AM on November 10, 2017

This is the stollen recipe I use which I suspect is similar to Quarkstollen. I generally make 5 or 6 batches of the recipe, making two small stollen per batch. They are really good. They use lot less butter, but 1 cup of cream cheese for yumminess. However, cream cheese has half the fat of butter.

Or you could just tell yourself, "This is a bread we eat once a year. Bring on the butter!"
posted by angiep at 8:40 AM on November 10, 2017 [8 favorites]

I have a bread baking book that talks about different brioche doughs (which it sounds like this is similar to, without seeing the recipe but having made pannetones before), with different proportions of fats to starches. Depending on the amount of fat you use, it will come out more like a sandwich bread (with a small amount of fat) or cinnamon buns (with a medium amount of fat). For a once-per-year celebration food that is a pain to make, though, I wouldn't blink at that amount of butter. In any case, I find that a small serving of super-buttery goodness is more satisfying (and less sugar) than a huge slice of low-fat equivalent.
posted by tchemgrrl at 10:13 AM on November 10, 2017 [5 favorites]

I made stolen for the first time last year. I used a recipe from the Red Star yeast website which calls for 1/3 cup butter and 3 cups of flour. You can probably substitute canola oil for some of the butter. Or, maybe a butter substitute from the grocery if you can convince yourself it's better nutritionally.
posted by SemiSalt at 11:46 AM on November 10, 2017

I*'m with JPD on this (or rather: "no there is no reasonable substitution"). Bake something else. Stollen is all about the butter, and the crazy thing is, if you later spread butter on it, it gets even better.

*Me: growing up in a serious Dresdner-Stollen-larded Christmas tradition (five-to-seven of them, lined up on a rack in the attic to mature for most of December, to be eaten from fourth advent onward until gone); those were made by my mom. On top of that, my stepgrandmother made a bunch of Bremer Klaben every year, which is the Butters-Mc-Butterton cousin of Stollen (Thanks. My cholesterol values are still fine).
posted by Namlit at 11:57 AM on November 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

Have you seen Felicity Cloake's How to bake the perfect stollen at the Guardian? Do read the comments, there are several alternative and very authentic recipes there. It seems your recipe is on the lighter side, and she advises to just make thinner slices if you are unhappy with the fat content.

That said, I have successfully substituted cream for butter in brioche-type breads and rolls, and I think you might be able to use sour cream for a Stollen. You need the slight acidity that is in the butter, I think. On the other hand, a Stollen is a lot of effort and it would be heart-breaking if it failed. Maybe just go with the thin slices…
posted by mumimor at 12:36 PM on November 10, 2017

Use all of the butter, eat less of the bread.
posted by so fucking future at 3:18 PM on November 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Apologies if this is obvious, but have you divided 1/2 cup by the number of slices you can cut from a loaf? With 16 slices, for example, you'd only have 1/2 tablespoon of butter (6 grams of fat) per slice, which might not seem so daunting. (YMMV; I regularly use most of a stick of butter to cook dinner for two, so we're obviously starting from different assumptions...)
posted by aws17576 at 7:08 PM on November 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Now that I have my bread baking book to hand, the three brioche recipes have between 4-5 eggs and 0.5 to 2 cups of butter for about 3.75 cups of flour, with all the other ingredients being pretty similar. Its stollen recipe has about half a cup of butter for that amount of flour.
posted by tchemgrrl at 4:42 AM on November 11, 2017

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