Why do we use fats in baking? Simple! They tenderize our baked treats, giving them a soft and moist texture. They do this by coating the flour and starches in the mixture. Fats come in all different shapes, like butter, oil, lard and egg yolks. Lets break this down and really understand fats role in baking.

eggs, butter and cream, some fats in baking

What do fats do in baking?

  • Tenderize – by coating the gluten and preventing the molecules from getting too tough
  • Leaven/Rise – by aeration and trapping air, which when baked expand as a gas
  • Preserve – keeping our baked treats fresher longer and stopping them from going stale too quickly
  • Adds flavor – all fats contribute a rich flavor
  • Thicken – fats thicken things like buttercream through aeration

How to Aerate Butter

When you aerate something, you are whipping it until tiny air bubbles get trapped into their mixture. This will result in a lighter and more tender texture while also helping the baked treat rise taller.

Butter must be room temperature in order to aerate. If the butter molecules are too cold or too warm then they will not be at the right flexibility to trap air.

As you beat butter and sugar together on high speed, the sugar crystals cut into the butter, leaving holes which quickly get filled up with air. You must beat on high until your mixture is lighter in color and has doubled in size.

Butter vs. Oil

  • Butter – from an animal, saturated fat, is a solid and melting point is at 90 degrees.
  • Oil – from a plant, unsaturated fat, is a liquid and melting point is -22 degrees.

Butter is great for recipes that need to be aerated. Oil is good for an extra moist and tender treat or when you don’t want to wait for butter to soften. You can always use both in a recipe and enjoy the best of both worlds.

eggs, butter and cream, some fats in baking

What oils can you use when baking?

  • Coconut Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Peanut Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Grape Seed Oil
  • Palm Oil
  • Flaxseed Oil
  • Almond Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Walnut Oil

Why bake with oil?

Oil is 100% fat with no water content. It is a liquid so it easily coats all the flour and starch molecules making the baked treat more tender and moist. Since there is no water in oil, it will not toughen your gluten bonds. Oil cannot be aerated like butter, so you cannot use it in a recipe that requires aeration to leaven/rise the batter.

Can you bake with coconut butter?

Yes! Coconut butter can be used in its solid form and be aerated like butter. Although, coconut butter melts at a lower temperature than regular butter so it will melt more quickly in your mouth giving your treat an even more tender texture and burst of flavor. Keep in mind, if its melting in your mouth quicker, that means it also melts down in the oven quicker, increasing the spread of your treat.

Recipes You May Love