What happens if I use vegetable oil in a cake?
I want to bake a cake out of baking mix bought at a shop. The mix already contains flour, baking soda, vanillin, other minor components. The manual says I need to add butter.
I'd like to use vegetable oil instead of butter - most likely sunflower seed oil. Is that a good idea? Should I expect any problems? Will the result likely be a decent cake or something to just throw away?
The major difference between butter and oil is that butter is only 80% oil, with the rest being milk solids and water (source). This means that using oil you will lose some of the water content that your cake should have, possibly resulting in a dryer cake. On the plus side, cakes made with oil tend to dry out slower than those made with butter.
The other possible different, but one that is unlikely with a mix I'd think, is that it depends on the method of mixing in your fat. If the butter is to be whipped or creamed while softened this creates a different texture than one you could get with oil or melted butter. Whipped butter or especially butter creamed with sugar provides a network of air bubbles that act as a raising agent during cooking, and the result is a pound cake like crumb. If your recipe calls for melted butter, though, this is not a concern - the result is more like a traditional muffin or quick bread crumb.
Finally, a vegetable oil has a fairly neutral taste. Usually when a vegetable oil is called for, this is desirable. Butter on the other hand has a more interesting flavor. Your cake may be a bit bland without it.