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first of all, basically what is the difference?

what are their uses and is there a big difference? for example is there a case where I should use pure butter for some things but never a spread or vice versa? When the recipe says butter which one should I use?

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Can you define butter spread for us? Do you mean margarine or other non-butter spreads? Or is there some spread that uses butter as a component that you're referring to? –  bikeboy389 Nov 19 '10 at 16:48
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Most things I've seen marked "butter spread" in the store have a subtitle or ingredient list explaining what they actually are. –  Jefromi Nov 19 '10 at 16:50
    
@Jefromi While you are right about the ingredient lists, perhaps for the sake of the site's international diversity, it's not so bad to explain a little what those "common terms" or "shelf commodities" mean. In my country (as an example) you can't use the label "butter" if the product contains vegetal by-products. –  belisarius Nov 19 '10 at 18:20
    
@belisarius: True, true. I figured since there were possibly multiple formulations of "spread butter" it might be helpful to be specific. –  Jefromi Nov 19 '10 at 18:33
    
the ingredient list says vegetable oil, butterfat, milk oil, emulsifier, etv –  Fitri Nov 19 '10 at 22:43
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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Generally speaking, butter spreads have a water component to them. That's what the emulsifier is for, as it keeps the fat and water from separating.

The problem is that you can't fry/cook with it. If you place it in a pan it will separate, and sizzle in a very unpleasant manner. If I remember correctly, it actaully smells quite awful in the process.

As for baking, I think it'll be fine anywhere there needs to be fat as fat. Wherever you need fat as something to hold the structure, you had probably best not use it. Caveat emptor, as I don't bake very much at all.

Let it be aid, however, that margarine as opposed to butter spread, can be used anywhere that butter is used. It isn't as tasty, and has trans-fats. On the other hand, it has less cholesterol.

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Thanks! I would have upvoted this if I had enough rep lol –  Fitri Nov 21 '10 at 2:33
    
There -- I did it for you. :-) –  Martha F. Nov 23 '10 at 14:02
    
"butter spreads have a water component to them" doesn't tell us about butter spreads versus butter, since butter also has a water component. The USA requires that butter be at least 80% fat. Most USA butters will be 80% fat since the fat is more expensive than water. There are premium butters that have higher fat content. The remaining 20% is mostly water. My understanding is that many European countries have higher required fat contents, but none are so high that butter does not contain water. In the USA margarine also must have at least 80% fat, it is "just" a radically different fat. –  Shannon Severance Nov 29 '10 at 23:28
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Usually things titled butter spread are actually made from largely vegetable oil. They can be a replacement for butter in recipes where the fact that there is fat in the recipe is all that matters (quick breads, brownies, muffins, etc.). In general if you have a recipe where melted butter joins the wet ingredients and those wet ingredients get mixed into the dry ingredients, you should be able to get by using butter spreads (at least the oil-based kinds).

On the other hand, butter spreads aren't going to work well in baking that requires the creaming method (where butter and sugar are creamed together) because the texture is "firm out of the refrigerator, softens quickly" (source) as one spread maker says. The bubbles needed to make baked goods rise using the creaming method won't hold.

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Yep. Butter Spreads are usually a mix of butter and vegetable oil (that you may prepare in-house processing the ingredients COLD) –  belisarius Nov 19 '10 at 17:30
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Butter Spreads are used as Butter substitudes in Baking. Usually containing Animal fats from bovine and ovine along with water, Butter Flavour, Emulsifiers and food acids. The results in baking is almost very close to the natural butter but the taste is a bit different in comparison with unsulted butter. It is not recommended to use butter spreads for frying but it can be used in cooking which I personally do nut suggest that !

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