I’ve always said I am partial towards butter when it comes to baking. At the same time, I have always been curious if, indeed, there was a difference between using vegetable oil and (unsalted) butter, taste-wise. A fellow Pinterester had commented in her blog that cupcakes that used vegetable oil instead of butter had the tendency to leave a slight «oily» taste to the cakes, which is okay when you’re making chocolate cakes as the strong chocolate flavor tends to mask the oily one but not so when you’re making, let’s say, vanilla cakes.
Anyway, being the type of person who prefers to see things for myself instead of taking other’s judgement at face value, I decided to try using vegetable oil instead of butter in my, thus far, most successful cupcakes: Strawberry red velvet (mini-) cupcakes. I used the recipe for red velvet cupcakes found on Annie’s eats, adding 2 tbsp of strawberry puree and 3-4 drops of strawberry essence like I did in my original recipe.
The outcome? Texture-wise, the cupcakes turned out okay. They were still moist and soft, albeit they were more spongy (full of big holes) rather than fluffy. They also had a nice dome on top. However, there seemed to be something lacking taste-wise. The cupcakes didn’t turn out half as oily in taste as I expected, but they were quite bland—this despite the fact I used almost double the cocoa powder called for in Annie’s recipe. They would be quite fine with a good dollop of good frosting on top, but not as something I enjoy eating on its own.
Bottom line: I think I’ll stick to using butter in baking cakes, thank you.
Strawberry red velvet mini-cupcakes
(Adapted from Annie’s eats)
Makes 36-48 mini-cupcakes
150 g cake flour
169 g granulated sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
180 ml vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
125 ml buttermilk
2 tsp red food coloring gel
2 tbsp strawberry puree
3-4 drops strawberry essence (e.g. LorAnn Oils)
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
3/4 tsp white vinegar
- Pre-heat oven to 175°C.
- In a medium-sized bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients. Whisk to blend, if necessary. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the rest of the ingredients. Beat at medium speed until well-blended.
- Reduce the mixer speed to «low» and gradually add the dry ingredients (cocoa-flour mixture).
- Return the mixer speed to «medium» and continue beating until the batter is thoroughly blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl whenever necessary.
- Line 2 mini-muffin pans with baking paper cups (or muffin forms). Fill each cup 2/3-3/4 full with batter. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 10-14 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
- Cool for 10 minutes in the pans before removing onto wire racks to cool completely.
Strawberry cream cheese frosting
(Adapted from Wicked Good Kitchen)
Makes about 2 cups
125 g unsalted butter, softened
125 g cream cheese, straight from the refrigerator
220-260 g powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
1 tbsp vanilla sugar
20 g freeze-dried strawberries, pulverized
2-3 drops strawberry essence
pinch of salt (optional)
- In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until smooth and creamy. (This might take time, so patience is required)
- Add the cream cheese. Beat until well-blended, then gradually increase the speed to «high», and continue beating until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula when necessary.
- Turn the speed to «low», then gradually add 220 g of the powdered sugar and the vanilla sugar. Beat until thoroughly combined.
- Add the freeze-dried strawberries, and continue beating at low speed until just blended.
- Set the mixer speed back to «high», and beat until thoroughly combined and smooth. Gradually add the remaining powdered sugar, if necessary, and continue beating until the desired consistency is achieved.
- Taste the mixture, if it has become too sweet, add the salt and beat until completely combined.
- Spoon the finished frosting into piping bags (if using immediately), or store in suitable containers for later use.
- Frost each (completely cooled) cupcake with the prepared cream cheese frosting. You can use a piping bag, or you can simply spread the frosting on top—works either way.