Oil plays a huge role in making any kind of bread. Not only does it add texture, but it also provides moisture and flavor to the loaf.
What are the best oils for baking any kind of bread? You can use virtually any type of oil to make bread but the best oils are vegetable oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, coconut oil, and more. Please note that every oil has a different nutritional profile and you should always use oil that provides the right balance between flavor, texture, and nutrition.
Read below to learn more about how oils affect bread better and the best oils for baking bread!
The Magic of Oil
Oil is truly a marvelous substance. It is extracted from plants, animals, and fossils – and depending on its type, each oil can be used for food, fuel, and even manufacturing.
Cooking oil has been around since 3000 BC. It was first developed in Japan and China where soy oil was used for cooking and medicinal purposes. It didn’t take long until other regions also started to produce and eventually mass-produce different types of oils.
But what is oil?
Oil is essentially a viscous substance that contains hydrocarbons. These hydrocarbons are a mixture of carbon and hydrogen atoms. Most oils also contain important micronutrients that are important for various bodily functions.
It didn’t take long for early civilizations to realize that if they repeatedly smashed vegetable matter using a hard surface, oil would release which can then be collected and filtered. Take olive oil as an example!
The extraction process for olive oil has remained mostly the same for thousands of years, the only difference now is that we use modern heavy-duty machinery to extract the oil instead of using animal-powered machinery.
In the old days, olive oil would be extracted by first washing and clearing the olives of any debris like twigs or dirt. The olives would then be collected in a large bin with heavy granite stones. This machine is called a crusher and was once powered by donkeys that would go around in circles, pulling the large stones.
Once the olives are mashed (with pits) the paste is then spread onto sheets and stacked onto each other. The pressure allows the oil to collect at the bottom while the fruit matter remains on the stacks. This oil is called virgin oil, meaning that it doesn’t contain any chemicals or additives and is 100% pure.
Lower-quality olive oil, called Pomace, is extracted from chemical processes using the leftover fruit matter.
The basic idea behind oil extraction is the same for every vegetable matter but thanks to modern science and machinery, we have gotten extremely good at not just extracting but also storing the oil.
Oils and Bread – A Necessary Combo
Bread and oil go together extremely well because it adds a lot of important features to baked goods. Here is how oil makes bread better:
Oil adds moisture to bread and plays an important role in keeping them tender for longer. Most oils trap in water molecules and keep them insulated which in turn keeps the bread from drying out. Oil is particularly important when preparing bread with whole grains which can dry out the dough even before it is baked.
The best part is that you don’t need much of it either! Oil is typically required in lesser ratios compared to flour or milk. So, you can get the benefits of oil without overusing it!
Oil also helps bread develop a softer texture. It is also great at regulating the development of gluten strands that can make the bread chewier or denser. When oil is used in the right proportion, you will always get tender and soft bread that is even easier to digest.
While most oils don’t add a lot of flavor to bread, they do tend to add subtle hints of floral or fruity notes. For example, extra virgin olive oil pairs well with most types of bread and provides a very balanced flavor.
Not only is olive oil used in the breadmaking process, but it is also drizzled over bread to give it a flavor boost. Similarly, coconut oil also adds an interesting flavor to bread! You can get sweet, nutty, and very faint coconut notes when baking with coconut oil.
Bread is a staple in the human diet and has been a part of our culture since the dawn of civilization. Not only have humans relied on bread for food, but it also provides a lot of important nutrients and energy to keep them going!
Some of these nutrients come from oil too! Olive oil is a great example because it is considered to be one of the healthiest oils in the world thanks to its balanced nutritional profile. Even the most basic of oils, like vegetable oils, can help add some nutrition to bread too!
Using oil when making bread not only gives it the above characteristics but also helps extend the shelf life of the bread too. Since oil keeps the bread from drying out too much, it also protects it from going bad since the oil molecules create a protective barrier that traps moisture.
Best Oils for Baking Bread of Any Kind
Here are our top picks for the best types of oil for any kind of bread:
Olive oil is perhaps the best type of oil to use in any baked good. Not only does it add great texture, but is also a healthier option than other types of oil thanks to its high monosaturated and polyunsaturated fat content.
It also possesses multiple important micronutrients like vitamins and antioxidants that have powerful health benefits. Olive oil is available in many qualities so we recommend that you go with the purest and most premium brand that you can find for the best experience.
Please keep in mind, though, that olive oil also imparts a slightly stronger flavor that can be off-putting for some people. We recommend trying this oil as a garnish over any type of bread to see if you like the overall flavor.
Canola oil is a widely popular type of oil that is used in baking and cooking. It is made from rapeseed and is known for its monosaturated fat content. Canola oil has a very neutral flavor and aroma so it won’t impart much of a flavor – but it will provide health benefits!
Canola oil is also readily available and cheaper than high-grade olive oil which makes it a great alternative. You can even find variations of this oil that is mixed with olive oil, this type of oil is usually called “CanOlive”.
Vegetable oil shares the same qualities as canola oil. It has a neutral flavor and is best for bread recipes that don’t call for an overpowering flavor. The great thing about vegetable oil is that it can be used in any type of baking recipe – not just bread. It is also cheaper and readily available which makes it a great option for bakers.
Sunflower oil is another neutral oil that can be used in the same way as canola or vegetable oil. Sunflower oil is known for its distinct polyunsaturated fat content which can make bread softer and tender.
Check out the packaging on any baked item in a bakery and you will likely see some of them made from sunflower oil!
Coconut oil is high in fats and is an excellent choice for people who want a fruity, nutty, and very light coconut-like flavor to their baked goods. When used in making bread, coconut oil makes for very tender and moist bread that is easy to chew and digest – but it is nutritionally heavy.
If you are bored of using neutral-flavored oils then we highly recommend that you start with coconut oil to make any kind of bread.
Oils play a vital role in making all kinds of bread. Not only do they boost physical characteristics but also add nutrients to the bread. Now that you know the best oils for baking any kind of bread, here are some related questions:
Can You Make Bread Without Oil?
Yes, you can make bread without oil but it will likely be very dry and maybe even hard. If you are out of oil, we highly recommend that you use any other type of fat, like butter to substitute oil. Although butter will provide slightly different characteristics, it is a great alternative to oil in bread recipes.
Which Oil is the Unhealthiest?
Partially Hydrogenated Oils, which are commonly found in most processed foods are known to be one of the unhealthiest oils for cooking or baking. They contain trans fats that can cause a range of health problems if used for a long time.
Always check the labeling of the oil that you want to use to see if it fits your dietary needs. Typically, olive oil is considered to be one of the healthiest oils for all-purpose cooking.