Help Me Substitute Without Ruining Everything!
November 14, 2011 12:32 PM   Subscribe

Seeking help from MeFi bakers! I'd like to make this recipe and had a question about substitutions.

I'd prefer to use butter instead of vegetable oil. Is this ok? If so, since the recipe calls for a cup of oil, should I use a cup of butter, or should I substitute at a different ratio? What kind of a difference, if any, would this make for baking time?

Would it be ok to use half brown sugar and half white sugar instead of all white? What kind of a difference, if any, would this make for baking time?

Thank you!
posted by foxy_hedgehog to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think either of those changes will affect the baking time, but will make it taste more delicious. I generally feel that any cakey thing that calls for oil is always improved by the substitution of butter!
posted by thylacinthine at 12:38 PM on November 14, 2011

For those types of recipes (pumpkin/apple/zucchini bread), I actually substitute the oil for applesauce. Same baking time. The last time I made a similar recipe I don't remember if I substituted the entire thing or if I did 1/2 cup oil 1/2 cup applesauce.

Not sure about the butter though. You'd most likely have to melt the butter first (and let it cool) and then add it.

And I almost always do 1/2 white sugar and 1/2 brown sugar for pumpkin/apple type recipes. No difference in baking time.
posted by Sassyfras at 12:38 PM on November 14, 2011

The general rule of thumb is to add 20% more butter; oil being 100% fat and butter usually around 80%. Oil makes for a moister cake but the pumpkin purée should do the trip andas others have mentioned, butter tastes better! Good luck!
posted by Lisitasan at 12:43 PM on November 14, 2011

My educated guesses: butter instead of oil should be fine (though as Sassyfras suggests, melt it first, let it cool, then add it into your batter). Half and half sugar will be fine too - better even, flavor-wise - and neither of these changes should affect baking time too much.*

*Caveat: using butter instead will add a slight bit more moisture to the recipe; I'm guessing your baking time/temp will be unaffected, but before you take it out of the oven, double-check for doneness with a toothpick, which is always a good idea with quick breads.

Sigh. This question gives me the late afternoon hungries.
posted by amy lecteur at 12:48 PM on November 14, 2011

If you're substituting just because you have butter and brown sugar on hand and want to use them, go for it and the recipe should work just fine. You might get a slightly denser cake with butter instead of oil.

On the other hand, if you're asking because you're really trying to figure out how baking works and what kind of tweaks you can make to a recipe, do the scientific thing: make one of each (or a half-batch of each) and compare! :) You might also experiment with the applesauce-for-oil substitution, which works quite well in my experience, or even half butter, half applesauce.
posted by jonathanweber at 12:53 PM on November 14, 2011

If you use salted butter you should reduce the quantity of salt you use in the recipe. Salty quickbreads are nasty.
posted by Logic Sheep at 12:57 PM on November 14, 2011

I made this exact recipe last month, using 50/50 white/brown sugars, and it was awesome. I added a cup of miniature chocolate chips, which I highly recommend.
posted by mireille at 1:01 PM on November 14, 2011

Brown sugar should keep the bread moister for slightly longer too.
posted by Gygesringtone at 1:13 PM on November 14, 2011

It will probably be fine. But both substitutions do affect the liquid content in the recipe. Brown sugar is white sugar mixed with molasses, so it adds some moisture. Butter has water in it, as alluded to above. This recipe looks pretty forgiving, so I don't think you'll have a problem.
posted by chickenmagazine at 1:42 PM on November 14, 2011

Melt the butter first. Take an educated guess as to how much you will need, get it good and hot to get the water out but don't brown the milk solids. Then measure it. The brown sugar should be fine. It may increase the chance if it burning so keep an eye on it. You might want to cool it a bit more than usual before unmolding it as the moisture content might be higher and a hot bread might fall apart. These quick breads are usually pretty forgiving, like chickenmagazine said.
posted by Foam Pants at 2:41 PM on November 14, 2011

I wouldn't melt the butter, but I would soften it. Reduce the salt a bit for salted butter.

Normally, in bready/cakey things I'd add a bit of extra butter when making the substitution. The pumpkin is going to make it dense and moist enough. In this recipe, I'd go 1:1 on oil and butter.

(As a note for the future: subbing butter for shortening in cookies is much trickier...unless you're looking for very thin cookies.)
posted by 26.2 at 2:51 PM on November 14, 2011

I substitute yogurt for oil sometimes. I just made an apple cake-bread loaf that turned out very good. I used chobani pinapple yogurt in place of one cup oil. I increased the yogurt by a third. 1 cup oil to one and a third cup yogi. I think I could have easily increased it to two cups. It was a little dense, but that is why I use marscapone.
posted by cairnoflore at 11:26 PM on November 14, 2011

« Older I feel like a part-time model!   |   Most colourful tattoo artists in Toronto Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.