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Carrot Cake, Vegetable Oil or Butter?

Going to make a carrot cake for the first time. As I look through available recipes, most call for a generic vegetable oil of some kind. I have to go back all the way back to my beloved James Beard’s American Cooking to reference a recipe for carrot cake that uses butter. Does anyone know why?

asked by Gourmet Metrics LLC over 3 years ago
21 answers 43961 views
516f887e 3787 460a bf21 d20ef4195109  bigpan
added over 3 years ago

The oil makes it moist.

B0e51b35 a002 4fdd adc2 f06fa947184e  baci1
HalfPint

HalfPint is a trusted home cook.

added over 3 years ago

Butter can make carrot cake very heavy and dense. Oil makes carrot cake (most cakes really) lighter (i.e. fluffier).

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added over 3 years ago

Better with butter

3d9a3882 c161 441f 8a91 0efd10979f7c  2007 09 11e s4
added over 3 years ago

The recipe I use calls for 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 1/2 cup apple sauce. The cake ends up light and fluffy and moist.

94ff4163 13ec 407a a53b 792c87641e55  fsm
trampledbygeese

trampledbygeese is a trusted home cook.

added over 3 years ago

I vote for butter as it makes a nicer flavour and I can't stand light, fluffy carrot cake. Carrot cake made with veg oil tastes like health food imitating yummy food.

Besides, carrot cake should be rich and dense, almost to the point of being a secret moist and naughty indulgence. It should make you feel pleasantly guilty for absconding with a slice for breakfast as you run out the door. It should be an amnesiac drug to make you forget that carrots have health benefits as well as making the cake sweet and sultry (because carrots are nothing if not sultry). That's what perfect carrot cake is to me, and in order to do all that, it needs butter, real butter.

5eaad714 4069 4c73 a820 cc36de797270  378765 10100142819201243 27206805 43631123 963932696 n
added over 3 years ago

I'm a huge unsalted butter fan, but oil is much better in carrot cake!

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added over 3 years ago

Another vote for oil. Oil gives the cake moistness and it's often what's used in carrot, zucchini, and other quick breads.

56c2251d 87e7 43a2 8b06 91ece1405fcb  2016 03 27 06 17 14
added over 3 years ago

Thank you all for such wonderfully informative and inspiring answers. Like so many issues of personal preference, it sounds like either one is a good choice. It just depends ...

6f85b483 fec3 4360 b32b cb06736820ab  twitterprofilepic
added over 3 years ago

In my experience, using butter in carrot cake really gives a more "cake-y" texture. Closer to pound cake, really. But oil results in a texture closer to moist bread (like banana bread?)

Bb911bcd 2446 4d8f 848f cdc2090e999a  leaf cake
added over 3 years ago

This is the carrot cake recipe I have used for decades, from The Bakery Lane Cookbook: Freeman Allen's Carrot Cake. Bakery Lane was a restaurant in Middlebury, VT, famous for this cake and other great baked goods. http://andbabycakesthree...

Bb911bcd 2446 4d8f 848f cdc2090e999a  leaf cake
added over 3 years ago

And it calls for vegetable oil....

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added over 3 years ago

What? No love for olive oil? Once you go olive oil in carrot cake, you'll never go back.

56c2251d 87e7 43a2 8b06 91ece1405fcb  2016 03 27 06 17 14
added over 3 years ago

Would olive oil work okay? Butter is tough to beat, but if I were to decide to give oil a try, olive would be my first choice. But let me ask you this, THE BITTER CHEF, have you actually tried making a carrot cake with olive oil?

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boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 3 years ago

I've not made carrot cake with olive oil, but yesterday made gingerbread with it, and it was divine. I'll never go back!

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added over 3 years ago

Won't make carrot cake any other way. No need to use expensive extra-virgin. Every day olive oil does the trick. Now go make one. Now. It won't make itself.

56c2251d 87e7 43a2 8b06 91ece1405fcb  2016 03 27 06 17 14
added over 3 years ago

I'll do it with olive oil! Need to work out my ratios first, but I am going to give it my best shot.

56c2251d 87e7 43a2 8b06 91ece1405fcb  2016 03 27 06 17 14
added over 3 years ago

My thanks to The Bitter Chef. I have made two carrot cakes now both with olive oil and to my taste, it is right on.

F91e24fe 9edf 4e15 ba6b 76906fc5f610  pasta fresca
added over 3 years ago

We make it with Olive oil and almonts
Lemon sugar glazing
www.cooking-class-authentic...

56c2251d 87e7 43a2 8b06 91ece1405fcb  2016 03 27 06 17 14
added over 3 years ago

I tried a lemon glaze and I was the only one who liked it. The people sitting at my table are used to the traditional cream cheese frosting. I appreciate you letting me know I am not alone.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added over 3 years ago

Forget butter. Salted or unsalted. Skip vegetable oil. Don't go near applesauce. What? Why? What's up with applesauce? ... If you're going to make a carrot cake the way to go is olive oil. You don't know me, but trust me. Olive oil.