There's a new Land O’Lakes product in the supermarket called Fresh Buttery Taste Spread. How does it stack up to real butter?
Fresh Buttery Taste Spread is a soybean oil–based product with a label touting “70 percent less saturated fat than butter, 0 grams of trans fat per serving, and no cholesterol.” We compared the spread to regular unsalted Land O’Lakes butter smeared on bread and baked into pound cake, chocolate chip cookies, and pie crust. On their toast, tasters unanimously preferred the real butter, complaining about an “artificial” taste and a “plasticky” texture in the spread. This soybean-oil product’s performance in baked goods was also less than perfect, yielding cake, cookies, and pie crust that were unusually dense. Why would this be so? It is likely that the spread contains a higher percentage of water than unsalted butter—and we’ve found that even small amounts of extra water added to baked goods can lead to increased gluten development and a tougher, denser crumb.
About the only thing that Land O’Lakes Fresh Buttery Taste Spread did well was spread easily—but it wasn’t worth the trade-off in flavor.