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Old 07-18-2010, 08:14 PM   #1
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Carrot Cake made with Butter - why not?

I want to make a carrot cake from scratch this week. All the recipes I have seen call for a large qty of OIL. Could someone here tell me why it has to be oil and not saturated fat (which I prefer)?

I've not made a carrot cake in a very long time and I'm determined to not use oil.

Thanks.

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Old 07-18-2010, 09:34 PM   #2
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The oil is why your carrot cakes are moist. You could try melted butter.
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Old 07-18-2010, 09:57 PM   #3
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Oil will make a more moist cake, because it is all fat. Butter will make less moist cake, because it contains some water naturally. Cakes made with all butter need to be eaten within a day or two, but cakes with oil stay moist longer.

Cakes made with oil will be softer when cold, and cakes with butter are much better when they can come to room temperature.

You could try using coconut oil, that is a saturated fat. Coconut oil has a very clean neutral flavor.

Why are you against using a mostly unsaturated fat?
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Old 07-18-2010, 10:44 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bakechef View Post
Oil will make a more moist cake, because it is all fat. Butter will make less moist cake, because it contains some water naturally. Cakes made with all butter need to be eaten within a day or two, but cakes with oil stay moist longer.

Cakes made with oil will be softer when cold, and cakes with butter are much better when they can come to room temperature.

You could try using coconut oil, that is a saturated fat. Coconut oil has a very clean neutral flavor.

Why are you against using a mostly unsaturated fat?


It is true that I am not a world-class baker, but I can say this, that every cake recipe that called for oil ended up, well, oily. Every cake I have ever made that called for saturated fat was just right. I have made carrot cake long ago and it was disgusting, it was that oily in texture. I have eaten carrot cake made by others and they were equally oily.

I can't figure out why most cake recipes call for saturated fat but when it come to carrot cake, all of a sudden butter ceases to exist. I will try melted butter and see what happens.

I agree that cakes made with butter should be eaten within maybe 24 hours. But that's no problem, 'cause they're so nice. I would say that maybe you have to put all that icing on carrot cake to disguise the oilyness. But a good old fashioned butter-based cake is nice without any icing at all. I add icing when I make one only because it is expected by the people who are going to eat it. For me & my immediate family, there are no complaints.

Thanks for your responses & advice!
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Old 07-18-2010, 10:57 PM   #5
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I am willing to bet that melted butter will make a nice carrot cake. As I said in the other post, just serve at room temp (how I like my cake anyway) and it should be just fine. I have made my yellow butter cake with half oil and half butter with good results, it was more moist, but not heavy and oily. I think as long as you switch out fat for another fat, the results should be similar, it is when you switch out fat with applesauce that the chemistry of the recipe is altered greatly.

I agree, I have had many carrot cakes that were oily. Most recipes that I see call for 1 1/2 cups oil, which I think is overkill. The recipe that I use is from Shirley O'Corriher's Bakewise, for me it is perfect in texture and takes just one cup of oil. :-)
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Old 07-18-2010, 11:11 PM   #6
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When I made my first carrot cake I followed the recipe exactly, and it also tasted oily. The second time, I used half white sugar and half brown sugar, as well as half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat flour. That took care of the oily taste of the cake, and the flavor and texture were both wonderful
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Old 07-18-2010, 11:18 PM   #7
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Thank you, bakechef. This leads me to ask if you can recommend a really good baking cookbook that is not excessively simple but not for professional cooks either - yet explains the chemistry of baking, ie, why we must do such & such & not make substitutes. I heard some unfavourable things about Corriher's book but right now I have no book at all and I am floundering with recipes that I think are not tested. Stuff I've clipped out from here & there. Also I have quite a few "natural food" cookbooks which are well-intentioned but let's face it, baking developed in dairy- and sugar- and wheat-consuming cultures.

One thing I do know - as you alluded to with your example of exchanging applesauce for fat - is that you can't dicker around too much with baking. It's got to be quite precise or your cookies end up the size of dinner plates, etc. Which I have done.
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Old 07-18-2010, 11:46 PM   #8
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One of the best "go to" all around baking cookbooks that I can recommend is the America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book. This book gives you really solid recipes for many common baked goods, and they tell you why they work, and what mistakes can make some recipes fail. It is a must have binder cookbook. It will instruct you on acceptable substitutes, and includes both volume and weight measurements, I bought a scale a few years ago and now rely heavily on it.

They say that each recipe is tested many times. Shirley's cookbook is a good read and you can learn a lot about the chemistry of baking, but the recipes can be overly fussy and complicated with odd hard to find ingredients. Her recipes are tailored to the southern palate, and tend to be on the sweet side.

The King Arthur flour website has great recipes, with many that are well tested for good results.
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Old 07-19-2010, 03:46 AM   #9
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Personally I don't care for the taste of oil in a cake I would never use it. I have made carrotcakes with melted butter many times and the result comes out great, never had any problem with its consistency or dryness.
Also if you keep a cake in the fridge the cake lasts for a few days without any problem. Just take it out about half an hour prior to eating to bring it back to the room temperature.
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Old 07-19-2010, 08:09 AM   #10
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I found Shirley Corriher's book to be really technical. I also have Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, the first edition which includes a lot of science when it comes to baking. I found that book more helpful, particularly what he wrote about chocolate chip cookies.
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