Baking with oil has so many fabulous attributes, it’s hard to know where to begin—but here goes: Baking with oil is easy. There’s no softening butter or pulling out the heavy stand mixer. Instead, oil is (almost) always just whisked (or stirred) by hand in a bowl with the other ingredients.
Moreover, oil-based baked goods have a much longer shelf-life than butter-based baked goods (and they’re moister too!). Oil is liquid at room temperature. This not only keeps a baked good from drying out the way one made with butter might (since butter is solid at room temperature), it also results in baked goods with the tenderest crumb. A baked good made with oil is even better the day after it’s made. Oil-based baked goods are the ultimate make-ahead treats.
In addition, nut oils—such as those called for in Pistachio Chiffon Cake with Raspberry Glaze and Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies—have the added benefit of subtly flavoring your baked goods. And although butter certainly has terrific flavor, it’s never going to taste like a pistachio or a hazelnut. Even though coconut oil is not much of a flavor booster, it does have the attribute of behaving like butter when solid—which makes it a great butter substitute for biscuits. You cut the coconut oil into the flour mixture just as you would butter.
Finally, oil also makes for a wonderful confectioners’ sugar-based glaze, subtly flavored, glossy, and thick. One made with olive oil—drizzled over Strawberry Cornmeal Loaf Cake—is truly the stuff of dreams.