It’s important to know how oil and butter contribute to the finished baking product before you decide to make the swap. When reading a recipe that calls for creaming butter and sugar it typical says to beat until pale light and fluffy. Depending on the amount used and what you’re using to mix the ingredients this can take anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes.
This Cornmeal Orange Cake was made with olive oil.
If you’re using oil and sugar you can beat this until the cows come home and it will not be pale light and fluffy. It will always look like wet sugar. Beating butter adds and holds lots of tiny air bubbles which lighten the mixture which leads to a lighter crumb. Cakes made with oil tend to be very moist and also tender, think Carrot Cake. They also retain their moisture longer than a cake made with butter.
Oil vs Butter
This is a tale of two fats, saturated and unsaturated. Butter, shortening and lard are saturated fats and they are solid at room temperature. Most oils are unsaturated fats and are liquid at room temperature. The one exception is Coconut Oil which saturates naturally and has many health benefits. A word of caution here about using Coconut Oil. If a person has a nut allergy it is best not to serve them anything with coconut oil. This should go without saying but you never know.
The Best Oils to Substitute for Butter When Baking
Now let’s talk about which oils to use. Mild flavored oils are generally the best. You don’t want a strong flavored oil competing with the flavor of your cake. The role of the oil is to produce a moist and tender crumb. Generally speaking, mild olive oil and canola oil are great choices. Please save the peanut oil for frying your Thanksgiving turkey and use the fancy smancy walnut oil for drizzling on your salads. Another important thing to point out is that using oil rather than butter does not reduce the amount of calories. Most oils range from 100-125 calories per tablespoon and butter is 100 calories per tablespoon.
The Lavender Cordial Cake uses a combination of butter and canola oil.
Here is a handy-dandy substitution chart that shows how you can substitute oil for butter when baking cakes. The listings below show the substitution amounts for butter in imperial and metric measurements.
|1 tsp||¾ tsp||5 mls||3 mls|
|2 tsp||1 ½ tsp||10 mls||7.5 mls|
|1 TBS||2 ½ tsp||15 mls||12.5 mls|
|2 TBS||1 ½ TBS||30 mls||22.5 mls|
|¼ cup||3 TBS||60 mls||45 mls|
|⅓ cup||¼ cup||80 mls||60 mls|
|½ cup||¼ cup + 2 TBS||125 mls||90 mls|
|⅔ cup||½ cup||160 mls||125 mls|
|¾ cup||½ cup + 1 TBS||185 mls||140 mls|
|1 cup||¾ cup||250 mls||175 mls|
|2 cups||1 ½ cups||500 mls||375 mls|
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