Every baker has their preference, for one reason or another; but which type of fat is the best fat to use in your cakes?
We use only British butter, for us the taste of butter in cakes really enriches the sponge and we find that the other fats don't provide the same end result. In Wraggamuffins' opinion, butter is second-to-none! We've perfected our recipes to produce nicely domed cupcakes, ready for filling and piping.
Some bakers insist on using margarine (Stork or Flora for example), and others insist on using oil or shortening for a super moist sponge. There is no right or wrong, but you should be aware of the different effects fats have on your sponge.
In our opinion, margarine, oil and shortening provide less flavour, butter makes your sponge creamy.
We looked into what happens to the sponge (baking is a science after all) when different types of fat are used:
Using butter provides a creamy tasting, fine-textured sponge. The smaller crumb size is noticeable, and air pockets make the sponge nice and light. Butter won't create a tall cake as easily as other fats, so it's important to get as much air into your cake batter as possible. Opting for unsalted butter should always be your preference.
Using oil in cakes you will always end up with a very moist cake, however because oil doesn't hold air-pockets like butter or margarine does, you may find that extra beating is required to make sure you don't end up with a dense sponge. The crumb is slightly bigger and more open than other cakes. Use an oil without flavour (vegetable or sunflower) otherwise you'll transfer the flavour of your oil into your sponge, which may or may not work out well. If making cupcakes be aware that using oil may cause your cases to peel away.
The crumb in a shortening cake is light and airy, however the flavour just isn't appealing. Shortening cakes can taste quite "fatty" and the texture often turns out coarse, dry and crumbly. This means that your shortening cake will be messy to eat and difficult to hold without causing it to crumble.
As moist as the oil and butter sponge, but the salt in margarine can be a bit too over-powering in a delicate cake sponge. The cake can be quite dense when baked using Margarine, the texture is not light and airy, despite producing more air pockets!