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Shortened cakes, made with liquid fat being oil, include the carrot, zucchini, apple and pumpkin, and spice cakes, and can be prepared either layered, in a loaf pan, or as a cupcake. Cake mix cakes, are commonly made with the same type of fat. Liquid fat and sugar are not "creamed", but rather the cakes are mixed using the One or Two Bowl or Muffin Mix Method. Oil-shortened cakes instead rely on chemical leaveners such as baking powder and/or baking soda or physical leavening from whipping air into the batter, especially egg whites, if beaten alone with sugar and folded into the batter at the end of mixing.
The liquid oil acts more rapidly than softened butter to coat the wheat flour's gluten forming protein molecules, rendering them tender by preventing the formation of gluten which makes the cakes tough. Oil adds moistness and density to the recipe's texture. Besides liquid oil always stays liquid and never sets into a solid form, even when refrigerated; always retaining the baked good's tenderness and moistness.
SARAH SAYS: Some bakers try and replace oil for butter in shortened cakes in hopes to make them more tender and moist. This substitution can fail because liquid fats and solid fats are not unchangeable. Instead, a small amount of oil, or one or two tablespoons can be added to the recipe, without reducing the amount of butter in the recipe. The key is to not add too much oil, otherwise the cake becomes too heavy and compact, or worse, greasy and will fall in the center.