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How does air become incorporated into a cake when oil is used instead of butter or margarine?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hi,

 

I realize that many cake recipes rely on the creaming of the butter and sugar to make air pockets that will fill up with air provided by the chemical leaveners in the recipe.

But how does this work if there is no creaming to take place because the recipe uses oil instead of butter or margarine? In recipes like this, the chemical leaveners are present, but how do they make the cake rise when there is oil used and therefore no creaming took place?
 
I've made countless cupcake recipes where there was no solid fat (just oil) and the cakes turned out just fine - they rose like they were supposed to.
 
There is such a fuss made about taking your time with the creaming process, but if a cake will rise without the solid fat, is this necessary?
 
Or is it necessary ONLY when you have solid fat in the recipe. Meaning, if there is solid fat in there, and you don't cream it with the sugar, the cake wont' turn our right?
 
I've been researching this and can't find any definitive answers.  Some people have said that when you beat the batter, that incorporates air, yes it does but it doesn't explain how a cake recipe can perform well without the creaming process taking place.
 
The only thing I can guess at is that oils such as vegetable, canola etc. must have some properties that I'm not aware of ---- or the creaming method is a hoax?
 
Not sure.
 
Any ideas would be appreciated.
thanks,
Julie
post #2 of 8

A chemical reaction occurs from the baking powder or baking soda. It releases carbon dioxide and leavens the cake. Another way is with egg whites. As you cook the beaten eggs, the air trapped in the bubbles expands. Leavening the cake. Over creaming the butter doesn't evenly disperse the air bubbles created from creaming. Leaveners enlarge these air bubbles. The same thing can happen if you overmix the whole batter. It tightens up the batter and makes a denser cake. Oil doesn't hold air bubbles and gets all of its leavening from other things like baking soda and baking powder or egg whites.

post #3 of 8

Boy, made me think on this one!  Memories from my culinary school lessons came to mind but I had to go back to my reference books so that I could be sure I was giving you correct info

 

--  you are right in that certain cakes use fats and the creaming method to incorporate air into the batter but these only assist in the leavening process, cakes also depend on other ingredients, such as chemical leaveners, eggs, etc. for their height and texture.

 

here's a couple blurbs from my book "How Baking Works" by Paula Figoni that my be helpful

 

Chapter 10: Fats, Oil, and Emulsifiers:

 

Assists in Leavening:  ..."In summary, the three main ways that fats contribute to leavening in baked goods are as follows:

- through the incorporation of air during the creaming of plastic fats

- by the air and water already present in certain plastic fats

- through the assistance of emulsifiers in high-ratio shortenings

....

OIL:

Oil is 100 percent fat....Oil is the only common lipid that does not contribute to leavening in baked goods....Oil is used in quick breads, muffins and chiffon cake for a distinctively moist and tender yet dense course crumb."

 

So basically, a true cake uses fats, but cakes using oil (that are not a chiffon cake) are really more of a quick bread which is why they tend to be denser and have a different texture.  These type of cakes depend solely on the other ingredients for their leavening.

 

Hope this helps.

post #4 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by nhbaker View Post

 

OIL:

Oil is 100 percent fat....Oil is the only common lipid that does not contribute to leavening in baked goods....Oil is used in quick breads, muffins and chiffon cake for a distinctively moist and tender yet dense course crumb."

 

So basically, a true cake uses fats, but cakes using oil (that are not a chiffon cake) are really more of a quick bread which is why they tend to be denser and have a different texture.  These type of cakes depend solely on the other ingredients for their leavening.

 

Hope this helps.

 

I think chocolate cake is the exception, however.  My chocolate cake recipe has no butter, just oil and no creaming method and it comes out light, fluffy and moist, not dense or breadlike.  Chocolate is the only cake I do use oil in though.  

post #5 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Julie_S View Post
 
The only thing I can guess at is that oils such as vegetable, canola etc. must have some properties that I'm not aware of ---- or the creaming method is a hoax?
 
 

Baking is extremely complicated (duh). Even our top scientists haven't cracked some of it's secrets. Shirley Corriher spent years trying to figure out baking and she only scratched the surface with her book Bakewise.

 

The creaming method is most definitely not a hoax! But it only applies to certain baked goods, certain ingredients combined together....

 

Oil is a completely different chemical than butter. I understand how you want to draw a similarity to them because when you cook/fry they work very similarly. But they aren't interchangeable in baking like they are in cooking.

 

There are many different types of cakes but mainly butter cakes (which rely on creaming) and sponge cakes (which don't rely on the creaming method). Each has different chemicals/ingredients and each rely on different mixing methods to work. In baking, there definitely isn't one technic/method that applies to all baked goods. Your thinking logically and that's great!!!!! But your wanting to over simplify a complicated topic. The creaming method for butter cakes don't apply to sponge type cakes.

 

If you want to learn more about baking I highly suggest you check out The Bakers Dozen book edited by Rick Rodgers. It's one of the better baking books that explain roles of ingredients and methods in a simplified logical ways. Plus, there are some really great recipes in that book.

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nhbaker View Post

Boy, made me think on this one!  Memories from my culinary school lessons came to mind but I had to go back to my reference books so that I could be sure I was giving you correct info

 

--  you are right in that certain cakes use fats and the creaming method to incorporate air into the batter but these only assist in the leavening process, cakes also depend on other ingredients, such as chemical leaveners, eggs, etc. for their height and texture.

 

here's a couple blurbs from my book "How Baking Works" by Paula Figoni that my be helpful

 

Chapter 10: Fats, Oil, and Emulsifiers:

 

Assists in Leavening:  ..."In summary, the three main ways that fats contribute to leavening in baked goods are as follows:

- through the incorporation of air during the creaming of plastic fats

- by the air and water already present in certain plastic fats

- through the assistance of emulsifiers in high-ratio shortenings

....

OIL:

Oil is 100 percent fat....Oil is the only common lipid that does not contribute to leavening in baked goods....Oil is used in quick breads, muffins and chiffon cake for a distinctively moist and tender yet dense course crumb."

 

So basically, a true cake uses fats, but cakes using oil (that are not a chiffon cake) are really more of a quick bread which is why they tend to be denser and have a different texture.  These type of cakes depend solely on the other ingredients for their leavening.

 

Hope this helps.

 

 

***********************************************************

Hey nhBaker,

Thanks for taking the time to look in your old textbooks!

I see where your book stated,  "Oil is used in quick breads, muffins and chiffon cake for a distinctively moist and tender yet dense course crumb."

and I've seen this hundreds of times. Yet, how many cakes (not quickbreads and not chiffon cakes) have we all made where the only fat was oil, and they turn out just lovely? Maybe it's like you said and these are more like a quickbread. But on the other hand I have to disagree because I've made countless batches of scratch cupcakes and I swear they were more like cake than a muffin and all I used was oil and I did not do any other thing such as whip egg whites separately and fold them in.

At this point in time my best guess is that the cupcakes I've made were using the quick-bread method, but still turned out more like a cake rather than a muffin. Maybe the correct way to state this is saying that it is the method that is "quickbread", rather than the finished product.

Thanks!!!!!

Julie

 

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stitches View Post

Baking is extremely complicated (duh). Even our top scientists haven't cracked some of it's secrets. Shirley Corriher spent years trying to figure out baking and she only scratched the surface with her book Bakewise.

 

The creaming method is most definitely not a hoax! But it only applies to certain baked goods, certain ingredients combined together....

 

Oil is a completely different chemical than butter. I understand how you want to draw a similarity to them because when you cook/fry they work very similarly. But they aren't interchangeable in baking like they are in cooking.

 

I wasn't trying to draw a similarity. I was trying to figure out how with the absence of creaming, a cake that contains oil (not a muffin and not a foam cake) rises so well.

 

 

There are many different types of cakes but mainly butter cakes (which rely on creaming) and sponge cakes (which don't rely on the creaming method). Each has different chemicals/ingredients and each rely on different mixing methods to work. In baking, there definitely isn't one technic/method that applies to all baked goods. Your thinking logically and that's great!!!!! But your wanting to over simplify a complicated topic. The creaming method for butter cakes don't apply to sponge type cakes.

 

Yes, but the cakes I've made using only oil were NOT sponge or any type of foam cake. Do you see why I'm asking what I'm asking now?

 

 

If you want to learn more about baking I highly suggest you check out The Bakers Dozen book edited by Rick Rodgers. It's one of the better baking books that explain roles of ingredients and methods in a simplified logical ways. Plus, there are some really great recipes in that book.

 

I'll see if I can locate that book.

Thanks!

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by aem1029 View Post

 

I think chocolate cake is the exception, however.  My chocolate cake recipe has no butter, just oil and no creaming method and it comes out light, fluffy and moist, not dense or breadlike.  Chocolate is the only cake I do use oil in though.  

 

 

Hi Aem1029,

You know it's funny you mention chocolate cake because many, many, many chocolate cake recipes I see call for oil and no butter, and I've wondered about why that is.  Perhaps in a chocolate cake it is thought that the flavor of the butter is not needed because of all that chocolate - as opposed to a yellow cake?

However, recently I've come across some yellow/vanilla cake recipes that also call only for oil and they turned out very, very good.

Thanks!

Julie

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