Oil vs. Butter Cakes

Learn how to decide whether to make a cake with oil or butter from pastry chef Amanda Oakleaf in this cake decorating video from Howcast.

Hi, my name is Amanda Oakleaf. I am owner, head baker, decorator of Amanda Oakleaf Cakes in Winthrop, Massachusetts where we do custom cakes of all kinds — wedding cakes, birthday cakes, sculpted cakes. Anything you can think of we can make it into a cake. And today I will be talking to you about cake decorating. There is two types of cake recipes. You could have one where it uses butter as the fat. You could also have one that uses oil. There would be two different methods for baking them. If you use butter it would be creamed with the butter and the sugar to create the air pockets inside and that would help strengthen the cake and create the support and the air inside necessary to rise. If you use oil you would probably mix it all in one bowl because oil when you beat it doesn’t hold air pockets inside of it. With one exception if you beat the oil with the eggs you could whip some air but not as much as butter and sugar. So if you’re just using oil you would just go ahead and pour it in with the liquids of the cake but then you would need to rely on leaveners such as baking powder and baking soda more of those to help the oil cake rise as it will be more dense. As far as flavor, butter provides more flavor in a cake but oil cakes we usually do with a carrot cake, maybe some fruit cakes. The flavor of the cinnamon and the nutmeg and the carrots in the carrot cake will kind of overpower and grant enough flavor where the oil would not. As far as structure the butter cakes have a more fine crumb and will fall apart when you cut it in smaller pieces. If you have an oil cake it will hold together a little bit better and will cut very cleanly. So those are the three main differences between oil and butter cakes.