So now we've established I really (really) like butter, I have to admit I don't always use it, sometimes oil works out better. It depends on the recipe. Oil can result in a moister cake, it makes better salad dressing and works best in marinades.
Anyhoo, I noticed on the back of the new Betty Crocker cake mixes that there is an option to make them with oil and water, instead of the butter and milk. I thought it was interesting so I did a comparison using Betty Crocker Vanilla Butter Cake Mix.
I followed the easy directions on the packet exactly the same for both cakes - just replacing the butter with canola oil and the milk with water, popped the mix into 2 identical pans, greased and lined the same way and baked in the same oven.
So what happened?
Yup, definite difference right from go. The batter with butter and milk was light, thick and creamy. Instead of pouring into the pan, I dolloped it out with a spatula.
The water and oil was a more fluid mixture that poured straight into the prepared pan. It was thinner and seemed a bit bubbly, so I gave the pan a few taps on the bench to try and loosen any air bubbles. The top was completely level.
Then I popped both pans into the oven using the fan forced option at the temperature recommended on the box and baked until a skewer inserted came out dry.
Bit of a surprise during baking. Although the top of the butter and milk cake was not level before baking the cake rose evenly. In fact I think if I had of lined the sides it would have been even more even. I decorate a lot of my cakes and a cake with an even top is a huge plus for me, I would barely need to trim the top of this one at all. The finished cake was a pretty uniform golden colour and sprang back nicely when touched with a dry feel. Once cut the texture inside the cake was pretty even without large air bubbles.
The water and oil cake cooked in exactly the same pan and same temperature peaked in the center when baking, it would be fine for serving the the kids looking like that but I would need to trim a heap off the middle to get an even finish if I wanted to decorate it. It required a little more cooking and was a darker colour when baked all the way through (tested with a skewer). The top of the cake felt a little sticky to touch. Once cut the cakes texture looked ok but there were a few air bubbles.
* Note I used a 22cm round spring form tin instead of the recommended loaf tin as I did not have 2 loaf tins exactly the same size.
I cut up samples of the cake unfrosted and we commenced a blind taste test.
Ok most of my testers were not completely reliable. My 9 year old, 7 year old and 5 year old asked how they were different, said they both tasted good and asked for more. I guess that is an answer in itself.
As for me, I could not tell a huge difference on the initial tasting, but there was a mild aftertaste of oil for the cake baked with canola oil and water. I think using a different type of oil could remedy this problem.
I preferred the cake made with butter and milk, it definitely won the visual test hands down and for me the taste was better, although I clearly stated my fondness towards butter at the start of this post which might make me a little bit biased towards the taste.
But the kids say any cake is a good cake, so if you prefer to use oil for taste, economy or whatever reason, who am I to tell you different.
Decorating the cake in shades of pink
I couldn't let all that yummy cake go to waste so I decided to decorate the cake, by trimming the tops and sides and frosting all over with vanilla ready to use frosting. I used an extra tub of Betty Crocker Creamy Deluxe Vanilla ready to spread frosting, divided it up and added a few drops of pink food colour to make 3 different shades. Then I spread the frosting on using a butter knife in stripes graduating darker towards the bottom.
A few sugar roses* on the top and in no time I had an easy sweet shabby chic cake made with 2 packets of Betty Crocker Vanilla Cake Mix, a tub of Creamy Deluxe Vanilla Frosting some pink food colour and a knife.
* Feel free to use fresh pesticide free roses in place of sugar roses.
Linda Vandermeer is a blogger, baker, maker and author of the cookbook ' Sweets on a Stick': More than 150 kid friendly recipes for cakes, candies, cookies and pies on the go!. Published in the US the book is available at most online book stores.
Disclosure: the ideas, words and opinions in this post are my own however this post was sponsored by General Mills.