To make a perfect cake you will need to have fat in your bake. Butter, margarine and oil can provide that for you. Contrary to popular belief, fat isn’t necessarily bad for our health. We actually need fat in our diet, although not too much. Vitamin A, D, E and K are fat- soluble. Without consuming small amounts of fat the body is unable to transport those vitamins around the body.
Two sources of fats; margarine and butter, are somewhat different from each other. Yet they are often put into the same category. I often put oil in another category. Margarine and butter are both solids at room temperature whereas oil is usually a liquid at that temperature. Butter is a natural product. It is made by churning milk and this separates the fat from the buttermilk. Margarine on the other hand is not a natural product. A process called hydrogenation modifies the binding structure in vegetable oils. This alters the oil and makes it into a semi-solid with a low melting point. This semi-solid is known as margarine. That is why a lot of margarines are spreadable at low temperatures.
The downside of butter is its saturated fats. Those fats are not healthy for your body. Therefore, try to avoid butter with a high content of saturated fats. As an alternative, you could use butter that is blended with healthy oils. Despite its cons, it is best to use butter for baking. Generally butter is best for its taste and high fat content however margarine and oils are great alternatives.
Margarine contains a lot of trans fats. These fats are also unhealthy. They lower the good cholesterol and raise the bad one. However, if you consume margarine every now and again, it is absolutely fine to use it in baking. Yet, if margarine contains less than 70 to 80 % of fat, it is unsuitable for baking. Margarine made specifically for baking is fine to use. You should find information about the fat content at the back of your margarine package.
Oil is also used in baking. However it is not suitable for all kinds of bakes. If you do decide to use oil then choose one that has a neutral flavour. Sunflower oil works well but olive oil doesn’t. That is, olive oil has a strong flavour and would affect the taste of your bake. Oil is known for giving cakes its moisture and tenderness. You can use oil in muffins or cakes, but not in a cookie dough for instance.
I use a specific muffin recipe that lets you choose. You can use either 100 grams of butter or margarine, or 80 ml of sunflower oil. Some recipes won’t tell you this. If you want to substitute oil for butter or margarine, you have to convert the amounts. Grams and millilitres are not equivalents. For instance, you could melt the amount of butter needed, and measure how many ml’s that is. Use this reading to measure the oil. So there you have it, a small useful guide on the comparisons between oil, butter and margarine in baking.
Image 1: http://www.castillodepinar.com/cooking
Image 2: http://thecakeblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/cake_fat_comparison_31…
Image 3: http://www.ohsweetbasil.com/2014/08/substituting-chocolate-chip-cookies….