Oil is often found in many desserts. When I first started out my cooking experience, I was pretty much dumbfounded as to why oil was used in so many things. To me, growing up in the South, oil was something we used for frying – not something we put in cupcakes. Furthermore, it was even more baffling that the things that oil was used in actually tasted good.
Oil is not something to recoil from, however. In fact, oil is pretty much the essential ingredient of all desserts. Oil can be found in many recipes – from cakes to cupcakes, to cookies and biscuits, oil is pretty much the universal ingredient of all desserts. But why? Oil doesn’t sound good at all – in fact, it sounds oily and gross. So why is oil used in nearly every dessert?
The answer as to why is plain and simple – it makes desserts have that moist feel that everyone craves. If a cake is made with just the simple ingredients – flour, eggs, milk, sugar – the cake might taste flat or dry, and even though you used a lot of flavour in it, it still might taste bland.
However, take that same cake mix and add a bit of cooking oil into it. The cake takes on new life. When you bake it, the taste of oil cooks out, leaving only a moist, fluffy centre that allows the eater to enjoy a cake that is not dry, but flavourful and easy to eat. The oil tends to bring out a flavour in the dessert that allows the sort of melt in your mouth feeling to overcome you. It allows the dessert to sort of crumble and sit on your tongue nicely.
Oil is not the only thing you can use, however. If you are allergic to vegetable oil, or want a healthier alternative, butter is a good substitute, as it can produce a similar effect. However, the butter might leave an unwanted flavour, while oil normally cooks out. Another strange, but oddly effective, substitute is apple sauce. This, again, can leave a flavour, but it produces that moist effect that oil does.
However, oil is the best thing that you can use if you want a dessert that is moist and that will make your guests say wow!’. So if you want to impress your in-laws, friends, or even just treat yourself, adding a little bit of oil into a dessert can go a long way.
Friendly note: oil in this context is not like what you put in your car. It’s normally cooking oil or vegetable oil, and can be found in any sort of store that sells groceries. It is normally cheap and easy to store, and does not spoil easily.