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Jun 3, 2013 11:29 AM

Best baking oil?

Usually I am all butter, all the time but I have a few recipes that require oil instead. In the past I've ignored the "canola oil conspirancists" but I am happy to be persuaded to something else.

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  1. I like to use virgin coconut oil in crusts and for crisp cookies, because it liquefies at 78F but is very firm when cooler. This prevents the sogginess that develops in leftovers after a day or so. Feel free to sub it for part or all of whatever other fats you use. It does impart a very slight coconut flavor.

    When using coconut oil you need to take the chill off other ingredients, or it will form hard clumps in the batter/dough.

    3 Replies
    1. re: greygarious

      Ditto on the coconut oil for cookies and also brownies. For cakes, I use extra virgin olive oil, walnut oil, hazelnut oil, or almond oil. These may change the flavor profile of certain recipes, but in my experience, always for the better. For pie crusts, butter only -- the best, unsalted butter I can find, but I think I will try coconut oil the next time I make a crust or shortbread.

      These ingredients can be quite expensive, and I am quite poor, but this is how I spend my money as it is simply my priority. After all I have read about how canola, soybean, and other refined oils are processed and what goes into them, all I can say is "eeew."

      1. re: pitterpatter

        Unfortunately you never know what oil you are really getting when you use olive oil. The more well-known the brand, the more likely it is adulterated. That leaves only the option of buying from small producers, and I don't have the budget for that. It's quite upsetting. Italy, especially, has a very corrupt system.

    2. Any neutral flavored oil will work. i.e. Safflower, Soy, Corn etc....

      1. I think grapeseed oil subs in very well when you need a neutral flavor and a high temperature tolerance.

        1. I use grapeseed or, more recently, organic sunflower oil for a neutral oil. A fruity olive oil is actually quite nice in some cakes, too.

          1. need to know what you are making

            7 Replies
            1. re: ipsedixit

              ipsedixit is right, it depends on the context (what you are making). I read one cookbook that had a lot of historical information regarding US baking, (Baking in America) and it said that adding oil to certain baked goods, sponge cakes, for example, is a fairly recent invention (1920s), and was done because it made the end product more tender.

              For a number of recipes, I use unsweetened applesauce instead of oil. Its far healthier, and the end product is often tastier, with a little bit of apple sweetness.

              But it depends on context.

              1. re: ePressureCooker

                Refined neutral tasting oils are relatively recent invention, so the 1920s time frame for using them in baked goods makes sense.

                Chiffon cake the best example of a cake that depends on oil for its characteristics. Its history is well documented. (invented in 1927, publicized in 1948)

                My mom used oil in baking, but most of her recipes were from magazines and Wesson oil ads, not cookbooks.

                1. re: paulj

                  Interesting. That Wikipedia article references the same inventor that Baking in America mentioned with respect to sponge cakes. ;D

                  1. re: ePressureCooker

                    I believe Chiffon falls under the sponge cake umbrella.

              2. re: ipsedixit

                It is usually a carrot cake or gingerbread or muffin.

                I don't want to use GMOs but the Safflower and nut oils might work. No allergies here.

                1. re: JudiAU

                  For carrot cake and muffin, you might want to experiment with substituting equal amounts of unsweetened applesauce in place of the oil. In my experience, does an equally good job keeping the baked goods moist, and IMHO even improves the flavor. Has the added benefit of reducing calories, as well.

                  However, I don't know if I'd try the applesauce substitution for gingerbread. My sister is really into nutrition (owning 1,000 nutrition books kind of into nutrition) and she's fanatical about avoiding GMOs. Corn is the WORST according to her, so you'd want to avoid corn oil, canola oil, and regular vegetable oil, because they all contain varying amounts of corn oil. IIRC, she uses a lot of coconut oil for non-cooking purposes, and grapeseed oil and safflower oil for cooking and baking.

                  1. re: ePressureCooker

                    My experience with a pumpkin bread recipe is that the fat, whether creamed butter, melted butter, or oil, is not that critical. I have made the recipe without any oil and it turned out fine, though I do usually use a quarter cup or so of canola (for a 2 loaf recipe).