The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Use Oil, Not Butter...For Softer Bread, Longer?

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CJRoman's picture
CJRoman

Use Oil, Not Butter...For Softer Bread, Longer?

I was just reading a book on cake making...and the author addressed the use of oil vs. butter in cakes.

Essentially...butter is a solid at room temperature so, while it melts in the oven, once the cake sets and especially if it is refrigerated...the butter inside will firm up again...leading to a "drier" or "denser" cake.

If you use oil...it stays liquid at room temperature...creating a softer cake, longer.

Can this be used in bread baking? I use a small amount (2T) in some of my recipes but could the softness be improved by switching to oil and adjusting the hydration?

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

I don't know about the softness aspect, but I seldom, if ever, use butter in my breads now; it's always oil.  The last time I made Sally Lunn, I did notice that the bread was not as rich or soft with oil rather than the butter called for, though.

yy's picture
yy

Yes, you can definitely use oil in breads. Challah, for example, always uses oil, as butter would make it unkosher. I find that in recipes calling for butter, you can substitute oil without having to adjust the hydration (I don't factor oil into hydration). I do, however, add a little bit more fat than is called for to account for the fact that gram for gram, butter tenderizes better.

breadboy025's picture
breadboy025

Butter would most definitely NOT make challah unkosher.  It would make it "dairy" which therefore could not be eaten with meat or poultry.  Some Israelis I know who are cooks say that they won't cook bread without butter because they don't like the taste, but they can't serve it during the meals with meat.

 

Butter is fine in the kosher world, just not mixed with meat.  A substitute would either be oil (vegetable, olive, canola) or pareve margarine (which is not desired by a lot of naturalists)

yy's picture
yy

Thanks for clarifying:-) I was quoting an (evidently) flawed source that said mixing eggs and dairy was not kosher.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

I am a fan of using coconut oil to replace butter. In pastries it is easier to cut or grate, as it's harder and stays solid longer than butter (if you refrigerate it)

i have made very few enriched breads, but those I did, used coconut oil. Didn't have any noticeable coconut flavor to me.  I only use organic cold pressed as I don't like using heavily refined products. I

pongze's picture
pongze

that cakes and bread are fairly different.  In most bread, you are going for a strong gluten structure.  In some bread, such as brioche, you do not want a liquid fat.  You want the butter to coat the gluten strands.  You do not want it to become oily, which is what it will do if it melts.  It makes handling the dough much more difficult as well.

In cake, gluten makes the cake tough.  You are also making a liquid batter, so the handling of the oil is not a big deal.  A liquid fat certainly makes cake more tender.

I tried making an enriched bread once with coconut oil.  I can't say that it was more tender than the same bread with butter.  In fact, it was probably less so.  I was not able to incorporate the same amount of coconut oil as I was of butter. It was kind of a greasy mess.

Bob S.'s picture
Bob S.

The fat that gives the best performance in bread is shortening. If you don't want to use the hydrogenated stuff, then try organic palm oil shortening. I have been using organic shortening from Spectrum Organics for years with excellent results.

http://www.spectrumorganics.com/?id=87

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

short crust pastry than butter on my book too even though we use half shortening and half butter or better yet  butter flavored shortening. 

pongze's picture
pongze

in croissants?  Just curious.

CJRoman's picture
CJRoman

I never thought of shortening....but...wouldn't that hamper gluten production since shortening "shortens" the gluten strands?

Like when I make pretzels...I go out of my way to get as much gluten formation as possible....would shortening vs. oil vs. butter hamper thwart that??

Also...If I need 2T of butter....do I just use 2T of oil? I'm having a hard time imagining that oil won't change my hydration...??

pongze's picture
pongze

that you would put in the shortening after you've already created a good deal of gluten, as in the process of making brioche when adding butter.

CJRoman's picture
CJRoman

So...develop the gluten in my poolish...then add the shortening later when creating the final dough? This might work nicely!

But...what is the benefit of shortening over the oil? I have tried using shortening in cinnamon rolls instead of butter, to create a more tender product...but the TASTE was horrid. Take away that butter taste and ICK. However, I don't imagine 2T of shortening vs. 2T of butter will make much of a taste difference? Especially with the lye....

Bob S.'s picture
Bob S.

Shortening will give you better volume and a tenderer crumb than other fats. In whole wheat bread the increase in loaf volume is substantial. I don't have any bread cookbooks, so I rely on the hundreds of bread formulas that I inherited from the old family bakery. Only one formula calls for oil (olive oil in celery salt bread), all of the others call for shortening. Butter is included sometimes, but mainly for flavor. Organic shortening is mechanically pressed, and is bland in flavor.

CJRoman's picture
CJRoman

I have learned so much here!

Never in a million years did I consider shortening. I am so excited to try this out!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

What about a blend like often done with cookies to stretch the butter flavour?  Coconut butter?  

Olive oils vary as well and have a wide variety of flavours.  From mild to spicy, nutty with lingering after tastes good and/or green.  Taste before using and apply to type of bread being baked.  

Some oils work better as a dip than in the bread.  A stale day old bread dipped in oil is also a treat hard to explain to someone who's fixed on fresh bread only.  To every thing a season...      Stale doesn't always mean bad.  Depends on what you're looking for.   Stale always toasts better than fresh too!

BetsyMePoocho's picture
BetsyMePoocho

Well said Mini Oven.... Doughs cover such a broad spectrum of variations in our world today.... Oh, what fun.

And "stale bread" is best used for toast and dipping, as you suggested, and turkey stuffings..... My wife and I call that bread not "stale", but "mature"....... (Being the sensitive boy that I am.)