What is Oil?
Oil is a plant-derived fat that remains liquid at room temperature. In baking, it adds:
- Shelf life
Oil is void of cholesterol because of its plant origin. It is low in saturated fats, yet high in monounsaturated as well as polyunsaturated fats. Vegetable oil, or cooking oil, can be derived from olives, sunflower seeds, or peanuts.
Lubrication is the main function of oil, though it serves many other functions in the baking industry as well. Lubrication is important to baked products because the it improves dough handling, as well as eases dough expansion. In loaf breads, oil provides better slicing of the final product. Furthermore, they tenderize baked items and serve a very important purpose in prolonging shelf life by slowing down the retrogradation or staling process.
Types/Variations of Oil
- Olive: Derived from the pressing of olives. Extra virgin olive oil is from the first pressing of cold olives, while pure olive oil is a blend of refined and extra virgin olive oil.
- Canola: Perfect for making tender cakes, muffins, brownies, cookies, and quick breads. Used often in box mixes.
- Coconut: Pressed from the fruit of a coconut palm tree. Very light, adds subtle flavoring.
- Corn: Extracted from the germ of the corn kernel. Has a rich taste.
- Sunflower: Extracted from the germ of the sunflower seed.
- Soybean: Made from the press of soybean.
- Peanut: From peanuts. Favored for frying.
Oils add texture, moisture, and flavor as well as prolongs shelf life in baked products. Canola, sunflower, safflower, or even the oil extracted from a coconut is best when utilized in baking. Peanut and palm oil are the best varieties for usage in frying baked items.
In bread or roll baked products, any type of can be utilized, though soy is the most common. Soy oil tenderizes the overall crumb, strengthens crust and gives more desirable crust color while prolonging shelf life. Bagels, flour tortillas, pizza dough, English muffins, hard or soft rolls, pan breads, sourdough, whole wheat or multi-grain varieties, and hearth breads all utilize soybean oil.
Sweet biscuits, cookies, and crackers utilize soy, canola, or corn oil to provide aeration or fluffiness, lubrication of ingredients while blending, flavor, and moist bite or texture. In cakes, it provides the needed aeration and tenderness to derive the desired final product attributes. Angel food cakes, snack cakes, jelly roll cakes, pastries, and pies receive texture properties and mouthfeel from oil.
In frying fats such as peanut oil, the main function is heat transfer into the baked good such as donuts or funnel cakes. Peanut oil also imparts a distinct texture and flavor when utilized.