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Cake recipe says "Vegetable Oil" -- which is best?

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BangorDin Oct 12, 2013 08:10 AM

This is a recipe with buttermilk, cocoa, coffee -- for a good chocolate cake.
Is canola oil less good than corn oil, or peanut, etc.? I don't want to add flavor with the oil, but want good texture and moistness.
Thank you!

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  1. alkapal RE: BangorDin Oct 12, 2013 08:16 AM

    use a light flavorless oil. grapeseed is good. for grocery store brands, i like crisco or wesson -- but NOT with canola. i just don't like canola, because it has an off, "fishy" kind of funk to it.

    peanut oil is expensive, and best to use for frying (because of the high smoke point).

    2 Replies
    1. re: alkapal
      Wtg2Retire RE: alkapal Oct 12, 2013 02:00 PM

      I agree with you, alkapal. The taste of canola causes a gag reflux in me and some other members of my family. We always look at the ingredients on anything that may contain an oil and if it had canola listed, we do not purchase it.

      A few years ago I forgot to check and made a very expensive purchase. The moment I opened the item, my daughter and I both were both startled by the smell of canola. Threw the expensive item in the trash after sealing securely.

      We also cannot stand the smell or taste of grapeseed oil.

      1. re: alkapal
        Becca Porter RE: alkapal Oct 12, 2013 03:06 PM

        Yep, I use grapeseed.

      2. juliejulez RE: BangorDin Oct 12, 2013 08:39 AM

        I'm a bit confused by your question, because when a recipe for baking calls for vegetable oil, they mean actual vegetable oil since it's virtually flavorless. I just buy the generic store brand of it. I too do not like canola oil because of the fishiness and if a recipe specifies canola, I use vegetable.

        8 Replies
        1. re: juliejulez
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          BangorDin RE: juliejulez Oct 12, 2013 09:09 AM

          I figured "vegetable oil" could mean any of many different vegetables.
          Now I see, on their sites, that Crisco and Wesson use soybeans for their "vegetable oil", but offer other oils too, including canola.

          1. re: juliejulez
            paulj RE: juliejulez Oct 12, 2013 09:17 AM

            While some people detect a fishiness in canola, most of us don't. If a bottle is labeled 'vegetable oil' it most likely is an unspecified mix of soybean and cottonseed oil. Refined (i.e. flavorless) corn, peanut, safflower, etc will all work. Typically those are more expensive than the 'generic' mix.

            1. re: paulj
              alkapal RE: paulj Oct 12, 2013 09:21 AM

              should we do a chowhound survey?

              and paul, i refer you to your own reference that would account for a heightened sense of "fishiness" or "off flavor" from rapeseed (canola) oil: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7056...

              1. re: alkapal
                paulj RE: alkapal Oct 12, 2013 09:26 AM

                Wouldn't such a survey be subject to selection bias? Those who dislike canola, whether due to taste or something they have read (GMOs etc), are much more likely speak up.

                1. re: paulj
                  alkapal RE: paulj Oct 12, 2013 09:29 AM

                  i'm asking purely about the aesthetics, not the politicization/science aspect.

                  but…what about your citation to that british reference work?

                  1. re: alkapal
                    alkapal RE: alkapal Oct 12, 2013 09:43 AM

                    here's the unscientific survey: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/920129

                    1. re: alkapal
                      paulj RE: alkapal Oct 12, 2013 09:45 AM

                      I forgot about that reference. Can't pull up Britaniafoods. But the Wiki article for alpha-Linolenic acid (omega3). Rapeseed is 10%, soybean 8%. Why no complaints about fishy taste in soybean oil?

                      I wonder if storage and usage patterns have anything to do with this. I use enough vegetable oil (usually canola) that it is well within the BBD. Someone who rarely uses oil might have an old bottle in the back of the pantry that has developed this off taste.

                      In any case, for the OPs question, any flavorless oil that you use for cooking or salads will be fine for cake.

              2. re: juliejulez
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                Billy33 RE: juliejulez Oct 12, 2013 02:14 PM

                I agree with BangorDin - vegetable oil is a catchall term for any vegetable oil or combination thereof.

              3. mcf RE: BangorDin Oct 12, 2013 02:08 PM

                I keep walnut oil in the fridge to use any time veg oil is called for. If I'm frying, I use peanut oil.

                2 Replies
                1. re: mcf
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                  magiesmom RE: mcf Oct 12, 2013 02:11 PM

                  Wow, walnut oil has so much flavor, I never use it except when I really want that taste. Interesting.

                  1. re: magiesmom
                    mcf RE: magiesmom Oct 12, 2013 02:19 PM

                    Not Spectrum, I get no flavor from it. In fact, I can add it to my uber finicky cat's food without her noticing, unlike some others.

                2. Caitlin McGrath RE: BangorDin Oct 12, 2013 02:20 PM

                  The neutral oils I most often use, for both cooking and baking, are grapeseed and sunflower.

                  1. pitu RE: BangorDin Oct 12, 2013 04:23 PM

                    My favorite chocolate cake recipe specifies peanut oil. Sunflower is my second choice. (And yuck = canola)

                    1. greygarious RE: BangorDin Oct 12, 2013 05:00 PM

                      I think chocolate is enhanced by coconut so I melt virgin coconut oil when making brownies and other chocolate baked goods. Be sure to have your eggs and other liquids at room temp so the melted oil doesn't clump when mixed.

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                        Tuls RE: BangorDin Mar 9, 2014 09:10 AM

                        I use olive oil; not extra virgin or the expensive kind, just the regular olive oil that Costco carries in large bottles. Used it in all kinds of baked goods - chocolate cake, carrot cake, pumpkin & banana breads, with excellent results.

                        The cakes/breads turn out to be moist and tender with no olive oil flavor or fragrance.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Tuls
                          DonShirer RE: Tuls Mar 10, 2014 06:44 PM

                          I recently used olive oil in a box recipe (only oil in pantry at the time) and it worked fine.

                          1. re: Tuls
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                            butterfly RE: Tuls Mar 10, 2014 06:49 PM

                            In Spain we used light olive oil instead of butter or other oils in cakes, magdalenas, etc. It very neutral and works great.

                          2. Ruthie789 RE: BangorDin Mar 9, 2014 06:50 PM

                            Sunflower seed oil is my preference. it is light and neutral but it is hard to find and when you do it is expensive. I also like corn oil for my banana bread. I see some have recommended grapeseed oil but I am wondering if this is a little too heavy for some baked goods? I refuse to use Canola oil.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Ruthie789
                              Caitlin McGrath RE: Ruthie789 Mar 9, 2014 11:19 PM

                              I find grapeseed oil to be quite light and very neutral.

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