Hello fellow foodies and bakers,
Fat is important to baking. Why? Not only does it add flavor, it aides in a golden color,and tenderizes baked goods. Most importantly, fats shortens gluten strands, think biscuit versus french baguette. Biscuits, and scones and pie dough, have fat cut into the dry ingredients, making it flaky. French baguettes have very little fat, thus their gluten strands are long and lean, making the bread chewy and delicious.
The type of fat varies based of taste, product, and well, personal preference. Butter and veg oil are two of the most common fats in the pastry kitchen.
Fats can also come in the form of eggs, dairy, nuts, and seeds in the pastry kitchen.
Butter has the best flavor in all of fat. It is not 100% fat, only about 80%. If you melt if over a skillet, there is a chance it may brown due to the milk solids, AKA browned butter. (Don't worry, browned butter is delicious in the sweet and savory kitchen!) Butter can be can easily be creamed with sugars, incorporating air to baked goods.
Butter works best for: biscuits, scones, pie crust, frostings, and cookies
Tip: Buy unsalted butter and add your own salt in recipes.
Oil is 100% fat, thus it make it a-ok for vegan, or dairy-free, baking. Oil baked goods produce a fine crumb, because it cannot be fully creamed with a sugar. Good news is oil is cheaper than pure butter, making is friendlier on your baking budget
Oil works best for: cakes (especially chocolate cakes), muffins, cornbread, brownies
Tip: Buy vegetable, or canola, oil for a neutral flavor
Want to substitute oil for butter? Use 3/4 cup oil for 1 cup butter. Why? Remember, butter isn't 100% fat while oil is. If you use too much oil, your baked good could come out greasy.
Overall, fats are entailment to all baked goods. Use good quality and measure correctly!