`New Cake Mixes Challenge Conventional Baking Wisdom - Olive Oil Times

New Cake Mixes Challenge Conventional Baking Wisdom

By Daniel Dawson
Jul. 1, 2024 15:01 UTC

A cake mix made to be baked with extra vir­gin olive oil won a gold medal at the Specialty Food Association’s Sofi award for bak­ing mixes.

I see this Sofi win as being a win for the olive oil indus­try, not just for my com­pany, because the cakes are blind tested by culi­nary pro­fes­sion­als against other desserts,” said Flour & Olive founder Estelle Sohne.

This is a col­lab­o­ra­tive prod­uct. I never wanted the cake mix to stand alone because the entire goal is to show­case olive oil’s diver­sity.- Estelle Sohne, founder, Flour & Olive

Flour & Olive sells four types of cake mixes. The com­pany also pro­vides ingre­di­ent lists for more than 70 cakes and detailed instruc­tions for home bak­ers to fol­low for each one.

Extra vir­gin olive oil used to be con­sid­ered a less-than-ideal replace­ment for but­ter in bak­ing. Since olive oil mainly com­prises monoun­sat­u­rated fats while but­ter is almost entirely sat­u­rated fat, olive oil was thought to be unable to achieve the same tex­tures as but­ter.

See Also:Cooking With Extra Virgin Olive Oil

However, this has changed as chefs and home cooks explore new ways to har­ness extra vir­gin olive oil’s health ben­e­fits and fla­vor pro­files in baked cre­ations.

Regina Woods, the culi­nary direc­tor of Dos Olivos Market, has been bak­ing extra vir­gin olive oil-for­ward cakes for about a year now. Cater to the olive oil,” she said. You’ll have a dif­fer­ent fla­vor pro­file than a but­ter cake.”

You get a lighter tex­ture from the olive oil because but­ter is very dense, and it’s a richer fat,” Woods added. But olive oil pro­vides this light­ness and adds a lot of air into the cake if you whisk it nicely.”

For her part, Sohne said the Sofi award proves that olive oil is a healthy alter­na­tive to but­ter that can also achieve supe­rior tex­ture and fla­vor.


Estelle Sohne’s flagship cake recipes

When you talk about bak­ing with olive oil and the chal­lenges that pose, it’s a mat­ter of per­spec­tive,” she said. If you think it’s impos­si­ble, you’re not going to try very hard, or you’re going to take a but­ter cake recipe and try to replace the but­ter with olive oil. That does not work.”

While Sohne thinks it may be best for begin­ners to bake with del­i­cate extra vir­gin olive oils to avoid pro­nounced bit­ter and spicy fla­vors in the cake, she believes olive oil cakes can win over the skep­tics.

The advan­tage of olive oil is that it’s a health­ier fat and can carry other fla­vors,” she said. I think that there’s a blind spot around olive oil, that it’s the savory Mediterranean oil when actu­ally, it’s such a ver­sa­tile oil that can work with the exist­ing fla­vors of other cuisines.”

Woods takes a dif­fer­ent approach to select­ing olive oil for cakes. She favors robust extra vir­gin olive oils with cit­rus notes to add com­plex­ity to her cit­rus-fla­vored cakes. You want a robust olive oil; that way, it shines through the bak­ing process,” she said.

Sohne’s inspi­ra­tion for Flour & Olive came while vis­it­ing a super­mar­ket and brain­storm­ing ideas to begin her own com­pany based around a food prod­uct.

I wanted to start my own busi­ness, and I went down a bak­ing aisle,” she said. I saw tra­di­tional American cake mixes on one side and these inter­na­tional olive oils on the other. I decided to try to make inter­na­tional cakes using these olive oils.”

Sohne spent three years per­fect­ing uni­ver­sal cake recipes (although there are alter­na­tive recipes for vegan cakes). She fol­lowed a near-sci­en­tific approach, remov­ing one ingre­di­ent at a time to see how each affected the cake-bak­ing process.


It was very slow going, but it allowed me to increase how good the cakes were incre­men­tally,” she said. I must’ve baked over a thou­sand cakes.”

The prepa­ra­tion begins with an elec­tric mixer beat­ing the eggs for three to five min­utes at high speed.

See Also:Spanish Baker Launches Olive Oil-Based Pastry Range

Then you driz­zle the extra vir­gin olive oil, add the wet ingre­di­ents and the cake mix,” she said. Some recipes require stir­ring, and some require top­ping, but it’s a sys­tem­atic set of direc­tions that are uni­form through­out the cake mixes. They’re very approach­able to make.”

Sohne said achiev­ing the desired tex­ture involved metic­u­lous adjust­ments to the leav­en­ing agents used in the cake mix and a thor­ough process of deter­min­ing the pre­cise amount of each ingre­di­ent.


Conversely, Woods mixes the dry and wet ingre­di­ents sep­a­rately when she bakes an olive oil cake from scratch, adding the extra vir­gin olive oil at the end.

Essentially, one-third of my recipe is the olive oil,” she said. I mix zest, but­ter­milk and egg. After, I add the olive oil to get those fla­vors to meld, then slowly sift in the flour.”

Next, she rec­om­mends fold­ing – gen­tly com­bin­ing lighter and heav­ier mix­tures to retain air – at the very last minute to fully dis­perse the olive oil into the cake.

Finally, Woods bakes the cakes for longer at lower tem­per­a­tures to hold the sanc­tity of the olive oil and keep it from get­ting to very high tem­per­a­tures, which changes the fla­vor and tex­ture of the cake.”

Instead of bak­ing at 350 ºF (177 ºC) as she would with a but­ter cake, Woods turns down the dial to 300 ºF (149 ºC).

Back in her home kitchen, Sohne said once she was con­vinced that her recipe could pro­vide con­sis­tent results, she sent cake mixes, ingre­di­ent lists and bak­ing instruc­tions to her friends and fam­ily.

After receiv­ing plenty of pos­i­tive feed­back and con­fir­ma­tion that the recipes worked, she launched the prod­uct, sell­ing it online, in spe­cialty stores and in col­lab­o­ra­tion with some pro­duc­ers and importers, includ­ing McEvoy Ranch, Oil & Vinegar and an Argentine extra vir­gin olive oil importer.

Sohne does not rec­om­mend any sin­gle extra vir­gin olive oil pro­ducer of vari­ety. Instead, she believes Flour & Olive’s cake mixes should allow the con­sumer to exper­i­ment with dif­fer­ent olive oils and find the best ones that suit their tastes.

This is a col­lab­o­ra­tive prod­uct,” she said. I never wanted the cake mix to stand alone because the goal is to show­case olive oil’s diver­sity.”

These cake mixes rely on part­ner­ships with olive oil pro­duc­ers and retail­ers that sell olive oils to pair our mixes with olive oils in a very open-ended way,” Sohne con­cluded.


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