Oil is probably one of the most common ingredients most kitchens will have. It’s used to fry, to saute, to stir fry, to brush on, and is even used as an ingredient in baking.
In cooking, it has many applications but in baking, it is used less often than butter. Butter, after all, is more delicious than oil. So, when it comes to desserts and breads where you want to taste that buttery flavor, oil is just not the ingredient that you want to use when you can use butter.
However, this doesn’t mean that oil doesn’t have a place in baking. Chiffon and sponge cakes take their moist and tender crumb from oil instead of butter. Ingredients for the most devilishly moist and rich chocolate cakes commonly list oil as the ingredient to use instead of butter. Even some cookie recipes, such as the chocolate crinkle, use oil instead of butter to make the moist cookie dough.
When it comes to baking, oil is a liquid ingredient that is not easily substituted. In fact, when butter is what is called for in a recipe, it’s not recommended to substitute it with oil since butter has the ability to harden into a solid. This is why when substituting, oil is one of those ingredients that is not easy to use as a butter substitute.
When it comes to baking recipes that do use oil, there are many kinds of oil you can use. When you use oil for baking, the best oil for baking is usually any neutral-tasting cooking oil. This is because the taste of the oil can affect your food. Never use used oil for baking unless you want your dish to taste like fish, chicken, pork, or even taste like bacon (We have a bacon chocolate cupcakes recipe you may want to try if you do!). Olive oil has a strong taste and so do nut oils and other seed oils.
However, there is one kind of oil that we think is better for baking than most other oils: canola oil. Canola oil is one of the healthier kinds of oil, with a low saturated fat content compared to even olive oil. However, it’s the neutral taste and the ability of canola oil to not turn into a solid in the refrigerator that makes it best for baking than other oils. Vegetable oil may or may not contain in part some coconut oil which does solidify at lower temperatures and will surely turn solid when placed in the refrigerator.
Why does this matter? While butter makes your baked good taste better, when you use oil instead of butter especially in cake batters, the resulting cake is usually much softer, more tender than cakes made with butter. It will also stay soft and tender even when chilled so you don’t have to let your cake thaw before enjoying a slice or two. Plus, since oil does not contain any milk solids unlike butter, your baked goods are more likely to last and stay moist longer. It’s also the more affordable ingredient compared to real butter.
Convinced? Here are awesome cake recipes we think you should try using oil instead of butter:
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