So far I have tired four different carrot cakes recipes, everything ended up too oily (The oil drips from the cake when pressed). I was wondering and found all of these recipes calls for "whisking sugar with oil until the sugar dissolves" as the very first step. I am sure, I am missing some basics here, since I don't know what is the consistency needed.

Can anyone shed light on what happens when you whisk sugar with oil? Like creaming sugar and butter to incorporate air into the mixture. What is the concept behind it? How the consistency should look?

I am using 135g white caster sugar and 100ml sunflower oil, if this information is of any help.

  • 7
    How much oil and sugar? Also, oil doesn't really "dissolve" sugar. The best you're going to get is an even-density sludge.
    – jscs
    Dec 7, 2012 at 20:57
  • 2
    I would suggest that if your cake is too oily then you might need to add more flour. The absorptivity of flour can vary by brand and even batch within a brand, so it is often the case that the amount given in a recipe may be slightly off. In my experience, for example, American recipes always need more flour than stated to achieve suggested consistencies. Dec 7, 2012 at 21:48
  • So are there eggs and liquid in the recipe? If so, I would beat the eggs, dissolve the sugar into the eggs, slowly incorporate the oil (as if making a salad dressing) and then add the liquid. Note:I'm adding this as comment since it doesn't really answer the question)
    – Chris
    Dec 7, 2012 at 22:05
  • 1
    are you trying to scale the recipe at all? sometimes recipes can't be a 1:1 scaling
    – Brendan
    Dec 8, 2012 at 0:17
  • 1
    Does the formula you are using actually call for sunflower oil or are substituting. Posting the whole formula and instruction would help.
    – Alaska Man
    May 21, 2017 at 17:37

4 Answers 4


Oil doesn't really dissolve sugar. The main purpose for the mixing is that in many recipe techniques, especially the muffin method, sugar is treated as a wet ingredient. By premixing the wet ingredients, and premixing the dry ingredients, when the two are combined, you require much less additional mixing to get a homogeneous total batter.

Creaming sugar into butter or shortening helps leavening because the sharp edges of the sugar crystals cut air into the solid fat medium, essentially creating a foam. This then serves as seed air bubbles for the chemical leavening to expand. This effect cannot occur with liquid oils.

Many carrot cakes are pretty dense and oily, although I don't think they should drip when pressed. You might have something else going on in your recipes or technique.


You get a slurry. Depending on the ratio of oil to sugar, you can end up with oil occupying the "voidage" between sugar crystals (think about damp sand) or sugar crystals dispersed in a body or oil. If you have not much oil (determined by crystal size), capillary action would produce a stable "damp" mixture. Again, depending on the type of oil, and type and particle size of the sugar, the suspensions may settle out into two layers over time. Based on a very rough estimate, your 135g in 100ml should yield a very dense suspension, much like a gritty paste.

As pointed out by SAJ14SAJ, sugar is practically insoluble in oil. Your recipes are confusing dispersing with dissolving. You will always end up with a 2-phase 2-component soild-liquid slurry, unlike dissolving (2-component, 1-phase). With butter however, there is always some water in it to dissolve some sugar. After whisking, you end up with a 4-compenent 4-phase (oil, sugar solid, sugar-water solution, air) emulsion (strictly speaking not a foam) or 4-component 3-phase if there is there no excess sugar beyond what is soluble in the water inside the butter. The main difference is that by heating the butter, you will increase the amount of dissolved sugar and vice versa. With just oil and sugar, temperature change would make no difference to the slurry other than the oil viscosity.

I doubt very much if this sugar-oil step is the cause of the dripping oiliness of your cake. The recipes are clearly wrong about dissolving and extending from that, the hope of better mixing using a sugar-oil slurry is flawed. Efficiency of mixing sugar into your dough is about shear force, whether you add oil and sugar separately or pre-mixed would make very little difference, these ingredients still go in as two separate phases. The oil would add some lubricity regardless to aid mixing. If the sugar were actually dissolved in a solvent, one phase, that would make a difference.


I agree that you need to emulsify the eggs and oil like when you make mayonnaise. It works every time for me and no oily cakes or biscuits. First beat the eggs until fluffy. Drip the oil in literally drop for drop until it emulsifies. It will emulsify after about 10 drops. If you skip the drop for drop method your egg and oil will seperate (split). Once the oil and eggs emulsify you can start adding oil faster but still beat in between adding the next lot of oil. Once all the oil is incorporated add the sugar bit by bit until all is used up. Flop proof.


i make carrot cake. My recipe does not call for whisking the sugar and oil together. It says to beat together.
try that , it might make a difference.

  • 2
    Can you explain why that would make a difference? It would really help your answer to explain a little more. I don't know how the effects of "whisked" vs "beaten" oil and sugar differ, since these ingredients don't react with each other much.
    – Megha
    May 22, 2017 at 6:36

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