Vegetable oil has long been used in recipes for cakes, brownies and other baked treats, and olive oil usually reserved for cooking savoury meals and used as a salad dressing because of its strong flavour.
You can only imagine the stress of that brownie craving hitting you at an ungodly hour, you have no vegetable oil in the house, and all the shops are shut.
In that situation, would it be okay to use another kind of oil? Or would it ruin your masterpiece?
We reveal all we know…
What is olive oil and what are the different kinds?
Olive oil is unsurprisingly, made from olives. But there are different kinds you can buy, which vary in price and taste.
Known as the most flavoursome oil, both to cook with and use as a dip or a drizzle, olive oil can be bought as is, or you can spend a bit extra for extra-virgin olive oil.
The difference between the two is that extra-virgin olive oil is made from pure, cold-pressed olives, whereas regular olive oil is a blend, including both cold-pressed and processed oils.
Extra-virgin is made by grinding olives into a paste, then pressing them to extract the oil, resulting in a forest-green colour, a grassy, peppery flavour and a fruity aroma.
Any cold-pressed oil that doesn’t meet extra-virgin standards is then refined to get rid of undesirable impurities, giving the oil a more neutral flavour and lighter colour, which is what’s labeled as just ‘olive oil’.
Why is vegetable oil used for baking?
Baking cakes or other pastries require a combination of ingredients.
Most baked goods use flour, egg, leavening, sugar, milk, salt and a fat.
Lighter baked foods use a liquid fat, almost always vegetable oil, rather than a solid fat such as butter.
The purpose of the fat is to coat the protein, in this case the flour, in order to keep it from mixing with the other liquids.
If the flour can’t mix it can’t form gluten, which would make the cake chewy.
Essentially, vegetable oil makes baked goods lighter and more moist.
Can you use olive oil instead of vegetable oil?
Since it has a stronger flavour than other cooking oils, and is often thought of as ‘grassy’, olive oil is usually reserved for savoury dishes.
However, if you’re desperate, you can still bake with olive oil, just like you would other cooking oils.
Fats and oils in breads, cakes, and cookies are necessary for the overall texture of the finished product, so it’s important to substitute them properly.
Be sure when you’re using olive oil that you use a pure or a mild-tasting one, and consider using margarine or butter with it.
If you’re running low on vegetable oil, maybe use it on a one-to-one ratio with olive oil, to dilute the strong flavour.