Oil vs Butter: The Banana Cake Edition

Oil vs Butter: The Banana Cake Edition

I haven’t been baking all that much this year but one thing I’ve been making consistently is… you guessed it, banana cake. Not because I find banana cakes so ap-peel-ling (lame) but because I found myself constantly faced with more over-ripe bananas than one stomach can handle. 

Here’s the thing about bananas. One day, they are perfectly spotless and yellow and the next, they look like a yellow dalmatian. Here’s another fun banana fact: The riper (spottier) the banana, the higher the level of anti-oxidants it contains. 

Now, I come from a family of not-so-efficient banana eaters who don’t enjoy spotty bananas. That leaves me having to finish maybe 3-4 very ripe bananas on my own the moment it passes the level of ripeness the rest of my family is willing to eat them at. 

I’m not someone to waste food, especially not a bunch of perfectly edible bananas, so I figured a smart way to share the banana burden: Bake them. Once you mash these spotted bananas into a disgustingly brown concoction (that starts off smelling like composted banana peels), all you have to do is add sugar, spice and everything nice before the oven works its magic and you find yourself with the most delicious banana cake that your family will be fighting over. 

I hadn’t planned on sharing the recipes, I was quite satisfied with consuming them. But during one frenzied night trying to transform another batch of ugly bananas into a beautiful cake, I realised I was out of butter. So I had to try a new recipe that used oil instead. And voila, I realised I had the perfect opportunity to share an unintentional baking experiment with you all!

Before I share the recipes below, I must say one thing. You probably hardly hear this in life but when it comes to bananas (for cake): The uglier the better.

Using Oil

Banana cake using oil

Recipe from Wen’s Delight

2.5-3 Eggs (Room temp – Approx 150g) (Andrea: I used 3 eggs)
130g Sugar (Reduced, original-150g)
200g Banana (Ripe & cut into small pcs) (Andrea: I mashed my bananas instead of cutting them)
150g Top Flour (or plain flour/superlite flour/cake flour)
1/2 tsp Baking powder
1/4 tsp Baking soda
100g Corn oil (or any vegetable oil except olive oil) 
1/8 tsp Banana essence (optional) (Andrea: I didn’t use this because I dislike artificial banana flavoring)

Preheat oven to 160 degree C, grease & line a 8″ round tin with paper.
1. Sieve flour, baking powder & soda together. Sieve twice & set aside.
2. Whisk eggs, sugar & banana at max. speed till stiff/ribbon stage. (Andrea: This is an important step as it guarantees a fluffy cake. Don’t try doing this by hand, I tried and ended up using a mixer cause it was taking too long. Estimated 15-20 mins depending on the strength of your mixer. Also, use a larger bowl as the mixture will fluff up to almost double in size)
3. Fold in flour & mix well. (Andrea: Don’t overmix!)
4. Add in oil & mix well till batter is shiny & flowing. (Andrea: I added in the oil in small portions as I stirred it in)
5. Bake for 40 – 45mins.

Using Butter

Banana cake using butter

Recipe from Bakericious

Ingredients: ( for one 8″ x 3.5″ x 3″ & one 9″ x 4″ x 3″)
250g salted butter
1 1/2 cups castor sugar (Andrea: I reduced this to ~1 cup) 
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
4 tbsp milk
1 1/2 cups mashed banana (Andrea: I used 3 large bananas, feel free to add more)
2 cups plain flour (220g sift together with 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda and 1 tsp baking powder)

1. Cream butter and sugar in a mixing bowl. (Andrea: Beat it till it is light and fluffy. It should be pale yellow/off-white when it’s ready)
2. Add in eggs, vanilla essence and milk and mix well.
3. Add mashed banana into the mixture and mix well.
4. Finally add in sifted flour and mix well and pour into a cake tin. (Andrea: It’s important not to over-mix this batter as it will result in a dense cake)
5. Bake in preheated oven at 160 deg C for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. If the top layer turns brown after 15 minutes, cover it with a piece of aluminium foil.
6. Cool cakes in the pan then remove. Use a sharp knife to slice and serve

Oil versus Butter: My verdict

This is a tough fight. My family enjoyed both of the cakes and I’m not sure if they even knew what the difference was. But if they had to choose, they seemed to prefer the recipe using oil. 

My opinion?

The cake made using oil was more moist and because it requires blending, resulted in a smoother cake without any banana bits. It was essentially a banana-infused butter cake. If texture is your focus, go with an oil-based cake because it does have a moister crumb. It’s so tender, it almost dissolves in your mouth. The recipe does take a little more effort (to me at least, since I don’t normally use a mixer), but I definitely think it was worth the effort. 

The cake made with butter was still moist, but the crumb didn’t hold together as well as the oil-based cake. It might have been the salt or just the natural flavor from butter, but I personally preferred the butter-based cake for the slightly charred banana bits, slightly denser/chewier crumb and its overall flavor. 

Both recipes left a slightly oily/buttery residue on my fingers after holding a slice which I didn’t like, but I’ve yet to figure out how to rectify that. If I was being picky, I’d say that the recipe using oil left more of a residue. (But it’s a very teeny tiny difference)


I hope this was useful for you! I’ll end off with two questions if anyone is in the mood to comment on a stranger’s blog:

What’s your take on the Oil vs Butter debate?
What other baking experiments would you like to see next? 


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