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butter vs. oil in baking

I know this is a much debated topic, so here goes. I often find that I miss the moistness in cake when only using butter. I think it's the oil I'm missing. I'm wondering where others come down on this, and, even more so, whether anyone has a tried and true method for substituting some oil for butter in a cake recipe.

asked by ATG117 over 4 years ago
4 answers 16727 views
added over 4 years ago

It definitely depends on your recipe; I've made cakes with just butter and they are extremely moist. Butter is a fat that can be aerated when creamed, oil can't. You'll miss out on the texture butter offers, but oil is great in quick breads like banana breads (much denser products, not as airy as cake)

added over 4 years ago

I'm not sure that oil vs. butter makes a huge difference with moistness - I mostly notice a difference with flavor! I do know that adding applesauce or other fruit to a recipe helps to make it really moist - also that apple sauce etc. can be used in place of all or part of the oil in certain recipes. Not sure if that helps at all! (Personally - I usually opt for butter...)


Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 4 years ago

If your cakes seem dry, you may be overbaking them a bit. Oil works very well in quick breads, and is also used in chiffon cakes (made with separated eggs, and the whites beaten separately and folded in). It won't work in cakes where butter is called for because of the emulsion that is created when butter and sugar are creamed together, and the eggs added one at a time.


Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 4 years ago

I agree with boulangere (and after all, she is the baker!) about overbaking. It could be that your oven temperature is slightly off to the high side. Butter and oil impart completely different qualities to a cake. The much-discussed Food52 chocolate bundt cake is made with oil. It has a very open crumb and is very moist--almost like a steamed pudding. Cakes with butter have a much finer close-together crumb, as well as that all-important butter flavor. Rather than add oil (or applesauce) to a recipe that calls for butter, try checking your cake 5-10 minutes before the prescribed time, and remove it as soon as the tester comes out dry. I bet you'll be happier with teh result.