We’ve all been in that situation. You’re whipping up the batter for a delicious sponge cake and realize you’re out of vegetable oil. And yes, you can quickly rush to the store to grab a bottle, but why not find a close substitute instead? The fact is many ingredients in your kitchen would work just as well as a vegetable oil in your cake. And this is regardless of whether you made the batter from scratch or used a cake mix. And some substitutes are also suitable for other baked goods like brownies, waffles, banana bread and can be used for frying. And you’ll even find replacements that can fit in your healthy lifestyle.
What Does Vegetable Oil Do in Cake?
When making a cake, it’s essential to make sure the texture comes out soft and moist. This factor is what makes the cake so yummy and smooth on the palate. And you need to add vegetable oil to a cake batter to accomplish this. Vegetable oil is a plant-based fat, which means its molecules trap air bubbles in between the other ingredients. These are released by the baking soda and baking powder in the mix, and because the bubbles are trapped, they create air pockets in the dough, leading to a fluffy texture in the cake by slowing down gluten formation.
Different forms of vegetable oils can be used in cake or cake mix, depending on availability and preference. While the most famous types are the standard soybean vegetable oil for cooking, other styles like canola, sunflower, coconut, and even olive oil can also be used. Some of these, like coconut oil, will add to the flavor of the cake since they have a strong taste. Others, like olive oil or sunflower oil, have milder flavors.
Why Substitute Vegetable Oil in Cake?
Of course, the most common reason why looking for a substitute becomes necessary is when you run out of vegetable oil. But other reasons may cause you to frown over it, like trans fat content. Vegetable oils made from corn, canola, and safflower are usually processed and tend to contain this and other chemicals added to expand their shelf life. And sometimes, you may not just like the taste of the vegetable oil you’ve got in your kitchen.
Vegetable Oil Substitutes in Cake
While some substitutes can be used in equal amounts as a vegetable oil in the cake, others need to be measured not to overwhelm the flavor. Whichever you select, be sure that it won’t trigger any allergies or offend any personal dietary choices.
When you run out of oil, applesauce is the easiest go-to option you can consider. And it’s a healthy alternative since it has fewer calories and is a fruit-based ingredient. When using applesauce in place of vegetable oil, you can substitute in equal amounts. And unsweetened applesauce is the best option because it allows you to decide how much sugar you should use in the cake mix.
Another healthy substitute for vegetable oil is fruit puree. Using fruits make sure the calorie intake is lesser, and if you want to watch your fat, it’s a great option. An excellent choice is mashed plums, which can be used in equal amounts as vegetable oil. But you’ll need to reduce the sugar in the recipe because plums are sweet. Mashed bananas also work great, as also do avocados, which are high in healthy fat. But fruit purees tend to influence the flavor of the recipe, so use them in cakes where the taste of the fruits will be welcome. For instance, banana puree works perfectly in banana cakes, while blueberry puree will do well in lemon cakes.
Butter or Margarine
For those who don’t mind the extra fat, butter is a convenient substitute for vegetable oil. You’ll have to melt it, of course, before using, so it can be adequately incorporated into the batter. Butter also works well in a cake box mix, and it adds a creamy flavor to the recipe when done. And if you don’t have butter, you can use margarine instead. Butter is animal fat, so take note. Also, when using, the unsalted types are better. To replace ¾ cup of oil, use 1 cup of butter.
Since mayonnaise already contains vegetable oil, it works well in added moisture and bringing fluff in cakes. And a cup of mayo is a good start for ½ cup of oil in most cake recipes. Mayonnaise would easily replace vegetable oil in your cake batter without affecting the taste in whatever way. Mayonnaise also helps to bind ingredients in the cake together, so you get a double bonus advantage.
Fat-Free Greek Yogurt
The best thing about fat-free Greek yogurt is its double-bill health advantage. It cuts down the fat and calorie levels and ups the protein content. The only downside to using fat-free Greek yogurt in cake is the texture may be slightly affected, but most times, you barely notice the difference. Just be sure to stick to the suggested swap ratio, which is ¾ cup of Greek yogurt for every cup of vegetable oil.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Which vegetable oil is best for baking?
Though olive oil is considered the healthiest for baking, canola oil is the most versatile. Its flavor barely influences the taste of baked goods, and it works for every baking recipe, including cakes.
What can I substitute for 1/2 cup of oil in brownies?
¼ cup of yogurt is enough to replace ½ cup of oil in brownies. If you have buttermilk instead, you can use that too. But you’ll have to add a bit more water to the brownie mix or cut back the baking time by at least 10 minutes, so it comes out moist.
Is butter or oil better for carrot cake?
Oil is the staple moisture-adding ingredient in carrot cake. But because creamed butter and sugar aren’t added, the cake may not rise as well as you wish. In such cases, after using oil, you can also up the amount of baking powder to encourage leavening and reduce the chances of a dense cake.
Since many reasons may prompt one to consider replacing vegetable oil in a cake recipe, having these substitutes around can come in handy. Among them, you’ll find one that suits your preferences and be sure that making cakes will remain as exciting for you as it’s always been.