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Shel_B

Replace Oil with Butter

14 posts in this topic

I don't bake much (in fact, very little), but when I do, I bake from scratch using proven recipes. However, while looking for some new ideas, I've seen some recipes that call for oil, like canola or vegetable, instead of butter. I've never baked with oil ...

So, can I replace oil with butter, and how would I make the conversion? Equal parts butter for oil, or some proportion? What else would I have to consider when making the change? Butter contains water, so would that be a consideration, and in what way?

Thanks!

.... Shel


Edited by Shel_B (log)

 ... Shel

"... ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself "

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The only time I change butter to oil is for muffins, and that is only because when I make a bigger batch and use over the next few days it doesn't harden up. You can replace oil for butter in any recipe really, but the final result will be different in flavor, texture, and some cases volume. i hope this helps

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I do this all the time. I don't like to add oil to cakes because I don't think it adds any flavor ( moistness yes). But if you have a great recipe, make sure your ingredients( eggs, milk, butter) are room temp and your oven is callibrated it shouldn't be a problem. I replace it depending on the recipe by butter, apple sauce or coconut oil.Hope this helps!

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Usually, when I do this I just clarify the butter to get rid of the water and protein solids, then substitute 1 for 1.

However, I have to admit that on a few occasions I simply melted the butter and did a 1 for 1 substitution for oil, the results were absolutely fine (butter here is a bit higher in fat than in the US, which may account for that).

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Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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I thought I'd bump this up as I now have another question.  It seems that using oil gives a moister result, and some people have said butter adds some flavor.  If using ghee or clarified butter instead of oil or plain butter, might that result in the best of both options - more moistness because I'm using more fat together with a good butter flavor?


Edited by Shel_B (log)

 ... Shel

"... ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself "

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Shel_B, if you are using ghee or clarified butter with a yeast dough, just make sure that it is at a cool temperature so it does not kill the yeast! Otherwise, with a batter, it should be good to go. John.


Cape Town - At the foot of a flat topped mountain with a tablecloth covering it.

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Whole butter is about 16% water, 4% milk solids, and 80% butterfat: if you are going for identical ratios in your finished product make sure to take that into account. If you're just replacing the oil straightaway you'll get more consistent results by using clarified butter.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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In Western pastry tradition, the default is butter so if you see a recipe with oil, that means a) It's in a misguided attempt to be healthier in which case you should ignore that recipe and look for a better one or b) the author is using oil for a specific quality that they believe to be superior to butter like more moistness or a more tender crumb.

 

If see a recipe using oil, make it with oil first before tinkering with it. If you really want to make a recipe with butter, choose one of the thousands of alternatives that uses butter. Trying to backport a recipe seems counter intuitive to me.

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PS: I am a guy.

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For home baking you can do a straight substitution without any serious problems.  If you need, for example, to emulsify the fat into the eggs, melt it and cool to room temperature, then follow the recipe.  I wouldn't clarify it, a lot of the flavour is in the milk solids.

 

Butter makes things taste better.

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In Western pastry tradition, the default is butter so if you see a recipe with oil, that means a) It's in a misguided attempt to be healthier in which case you should ignore that recipe and look for a better one or b) the author is using oil for a specific quality that they believe to be superior to butter like more moistness or a more tender crumb.

But oil IS frequently used in the Western pastry tradition, especially in cakes....liquid vegetable oils yield a very tender, even cake crumb that is soft even when quite cold.  So oil based cakes are often used for ice cream cakes or chilled trifles.  A butter cake (genoise style) would be firm bordering on tough/chewy when chilled.  And oil cakes don't stale as quickly as butter cakes.

 

A butter cake is not automatically superior.  In fact, I'd wager that most Americans raised on boxed mixes (which generally are made with oil) would reject the drier texture of all butter cakes.

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Shel_B, if you are using ghee or clarified butter with a yeast dough, just make sure that it is at a cool temperature so it does not kill the yeast! Otherwise, with a batter, it should be good to go. John.

 

Haven't graduated to yeast breads yet.

 

I wouldn't clarify it, a lot of the flavour is in the milk solids.

 

 

I've read that elsewhere, too.

 

I made my recipe, which called for oil, with a 50/50 blend of oil and good quality, but not high fat content or European-style) butter.  The results were excellent.


Edited by Shel_B (log)

 ... Shel

"... ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself "

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A butter cake is not automatically superior.  In fact, I'd wager that most Americans raised on boxed mixes (which generally are made with oil) would reject the drier texture of all butter cakes.

 

I wasn't raised on box cakes, but I suspect that the cakes that were made in our house when I was a youngster, were made with oil or perhaps margarine.  In any case, we weren't big cake eaters, and usually one of our housekeepers, who was from the south, made the cakes.  I remember the cakes not being dry at all.


 ... Shel

"... ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself "

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Interesting topic. I'm hoping to concoct a carrot cake recipe one of these days, and one of my goals is to use butter instead of oil. Because, as everyone's saying, butter tastes good.

 

It makes sense that all else being equal, an oil-based cake would seem more moist. I say "seem," because oiliness is not moisture, even if it gives a sensation of moisture ... just like in traditionally braised meats, which are as dried out as can be, but seem moist because of the rendered gelatin and fat.

 

So I'm wondering if there are better ways to modify a recipe ... butter for flavor, and actual moisture for the moisture. Using invert sugar and other ingredients that hold on to water (non gluten-forming proteins, etc.) might be one way. But I'm only a journeyman cake tinkerer.

 

Any other thoughts?

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Get a copy of Shirley Corriher's Cookwise and the sequel Bakewise.  She will school you in every bit of cake tech you need to know.  Leavenings, foams vs batters, and so on.

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