The EatingWell Test Kitchen Answers Your Healthy Cooking Questions
Can I Substitute Pureed Vegetables or Fruit for Oil When I Bake?
Reader Question: I've read that when baking cakes and muffins, you can substitute any pureed vegetable or fruit in place of oil. We use a bread machine to bake our own bread and thought I'd try substituting the 1/2 cup of oil with 1/2 cup of applesauce. The bread rose out of control and didn't bake evenly. I know the function that salt and sugar have in baking but what is the function of the oil when baking bread? And is it something that can be substituted successfully?
Answer: We've had great luck replacing some or all of the fat (oil and/or butter) in baked goods with pureed fruit or applesauce, but we have not experimented with replacing the fat in bread with fruit fat-replacer. When working with yeasted bread, there is more "chemistry" going on when the yeast combines with the sugars. When you replace a no-sugar item (butter or oil) with an ingredient that contains natural sugars (like applesauce), I would expect you to get the same results that you are reporting—over activated yeast and out-of-control rising. The good news is, yeasted bread does not need very much added fat at all. I would recommend trying to reduce fat calories elsewhere in your diet and leaving the oil in your bread. Here's a great recipe for bread made in a bread machine that uses just 2-3 teaspoons of oil: Triple-Rich Whole-Wheat Bread.