The Recipe Tweaker (Apple Cider Cupcakes)

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Those cupcakes above are my invention. Well, they’re mostly the invention of Epicurious.com (specifically this recipe for Apple Cider Cupcakes With Cider Cream Cheese Icing) but they become mine because I tweaked the recipe. The recipe called for shortening instead of butter. Shortening instead of butter? Are they mad? There must be a reason for this. So I discussed the issue with Diana.

“I want to make these cupcakes,” I said, “but this recipe calls for shortening instead of butter.”

“So use butter,” said Diana.

“Can I do that?”

“Sure,” she said. “Just use a little more butter than shortening.”

So I suppose this recipe is Diana’s invention. Instead of the 3/4 cup of shortening I used 1 3/4 sticks of butter. And the cupcakes came out terrific: an exciting use for that ever present apple cider that overflows the farmer’s market in fall. So when you go home tomorrow and make these cupcakes and someone asks whose recipe is it, say, “It’s from the Tweaker. The Recipe Tweaker.” And write me a theme song and I’ll show up in a cape and eat one.

15 comments

  1. Recipe Tweaker is here to eat the pie! No, the cupcake! No, the steak! No, anything you can make, he will eat then tweak and make again!

    …ok, sorry, that was pretty bad. Mm, apple cider.

  2. Did you use unpasteurized cider ?

    I’ll have to really look around as pasteurized is all that is sold at the markets and orchards around me.

  3. (to the tune of “The Greatest American Hero Theme”)

    Look at this recipe

    I can’t believe it myself

    Shortening in cupcakes is just plain mad

    It’s gotta be butter or else

    Believe it or not, I’m substituting

    I never thought I could feel so free

    Baking away on a wing and a prayer

    Who could it be?

    The Recipe Tweaker is me!

  4. I’m surprised your version worked, since you more than doubled the fat. Normally, butter is subbed for shortening in an equal amount — they are both fats.

  5. Diana says she said to use more butter because “shortening is significantly more dense and richer than butter (shortening is 120 calories a tablespoon, butter is 100 calories) so to get the same amount of fat or richness or whatever, i suggested using a bit more butter to account for that fact.”

    So there! (And the results suggest that it was a good idea.)

  6. Pika, he didn’t more than double the fat — it was 1 3/4 STICKS, not cups of butter. 1 3/4 sticks = 3/4 cup of butter plus two extra tablespoons.

  7. I saw these and craved them for about 18 hours before I broke down and made them…absolutely delicious. I used a caramel frosting though, since I hate cream cheese! It worked well.

  8. 1 is right. Butter is roughly 15-20% water by weight, so you have to accomodate that fact when subbing it in for shortening.

    For example: 1 Cup of Butter ~= 227g: 45g of which is water, so you need to add about 55g more butter to 1 Cup of Shortening to acieve an equal ratio (you add more than 45g because that 45g also has 20% water). By the way, 55g butter is vey close to 1/4 cup.

    Since you’re also adding extra water, you can reduce any added liquid by that much. Using the previous example:

    227g + 55g Butter = 282g = 56g Water = 56mL ~= 2 Tbsp.

    There are other considerations to take into account as well, such as butter’s lower melting point as well as the casein protiens it has that shortening doesn’t. Shortening also holds air much better than butter when creaming, so thats probably why the recipe uses it. It’s also cheaper, which may play a factor as well.

    Man I love being a food nerd.

  9. Hey, I’m way jealous of your cupcakes. Your frosting looks creamier than what I put together earlier this week. But I do agree, always use butter over shortening!

  10. Well I’m blind and can’t see the cupcakes, but they sound wonderful. As for the butter versus shorteningquestion It is all about texture. Shortening is going give you a lighter cupcake. Personally I’m not afraid of a little shortening once in a while.

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