`The Rise of Olive Oil Baking - Olive Oil Times

The Rise of Olive Oil Baking

By Laura Rose
Feb. 15, 2011 11:34 UTC

Olive oil has bro­ken down a lot of bound­aries in recent times, becom­ing a sta­ple in decent kitchens well beyond the area of its Mediterranean roots, and even tak­ing uncanny steps into dessert ter­ri­tory. With a push into the lime­light from cut­ting edge pas­try chefs, olive oil is becom­ing a favorite ingre­di­ent in sug­ary treats in restau­rants and in home kitchens as well. With its dis­tinc­tive health ben­e­fits and the unique fla­vor that top-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil imparts on dessert, sweet EVOO recipes are becom­ing pop­u­lar items on cook­ing sites and cen­tral items in new cook­books.

Dessert, that tra­di­tion­ally sin­ful course, has been sub­jected to all kinds of health con­sid­er­a­tions in recent years, from vegan needs to low cho­les­terol options, trans fat replace­ments and calo­rie-trim­ming diets. For these cases, olive oil pro­vides a func­tional sub­sti­tute for but­ter in recipes, offer­ing its own dis­tinct advan­tages of taste and tex­ture. Good recipes pro­duce desserts with an extra­or­di­nary rich­ness. They dif­fer greatly in char­ac­ter from the tra­di­tional but­ter feel­ing so that peo­ple con­cerned about health need not sac­ri­fice the plea­sure of a sump­tu­ous dessert.

Two new books address these needs directly, and deli­ciously. Olive Oil Baking: Healthy Recipes That Increase Good Cholesterol and Reduce Saturated Fats” by Lisa Sheldon, and Olive Oil Desserts: Delicious and Healthy Heart Smart Baking”, by Micki Sannar, are chock full of tra­di­tional Mediterranean recipes and new takes on recipes cus­tom­ar­ily made with but­ter or veg­etable oil. They also include tips on mea­sure­ments and ingre­di­ent com­bi­na­tions for using olive oil as a replace­ment in any of your per­sonal favorite recipes.

While some recipes merely use olive oil instead of but­ter in the pur­suit of healthy bak­ing, the best ones take into account the char­ac­ter­is­tic fla­vors of olive oil and often­times make it the star ingre­di­ent. In this vein, there are many new recipes crop­ping up with no appar­ent designs on health-con­scious­ness, such as those in the cook­book The Passionate Olive”, by Carol Firenze, which was writ­ten, as the title indi­cates, to honor a fer­vent love of the fla­vor, and not for health. For best results with these good­ies, it is essen­tial that you choose a very high qual­ity oil with nutty or fruity notes, for­go­ing the more pep­pery vari­eties, and prefer­ably choose one from a late sea­son har­vest so that the olive fla­vor will not over­whelm the other ele­ments.

EVOO cre­ates a com­pelling fla­vor when paired with dark choco­late, or an intrigu­ingly well-bal­anced fla­vor with rose­mary or cit­rus. The fruitier vari­eties are excel­lent in a cake with poached pears or blood orange caramel, and add a mod­ern touch to tra­di­tional straw­berry short­cake or rhubarb desserts. It makes an easy mar­riage with other savory ele­ments in the dessert, as with rose­mary, and gives even cheese­cake a sur­pris­ing new sophis­ti­ca­tion..

The fol­low­ing recipe has been adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table”, an excel­lent cook­book with easy-to-repli­cate ver­sions of French recipes, many of them taken from the Mediterranean south of France. This sim­ple olive oil cake is whole­some enough to be eaten at break­fast, but you’ll be happy to have its rich fla­vor for an after-din­ner treat as well. The rose­mary is my addi­tion, but feel free to exper­i­ment with your own vari­a­tion.

Olive Oil and Yogurt Loaf Cake

Makes 8 serv­ings

1 1/2 cups all-pur­pose flour

2 tea­spoons bak­ing pow­der

Pinch of salt

1 cup sugar

Finely grated zest of 1 lime

1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt

3 large eggs

1/4 tea­spoon pure vanilla extract

2 table­spoons chopped fresh rose­mary

1/2 cup extra-vir­gin olive oil

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and pre­heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously but­ter an 8 1/2‑x-4 1/2‑inch loaf pan, place the pan on a lined bak­ing sheet and set aside. Whisk together the flour, bak­ing pow­der and salt and keep near by.

Put the sugar and zest in a medium bowl and rub the ingre­di­ents together until the sugar is fra­grant. Whisk in the yogurt, eggs and vanilla. When the mix­ture is well blended, gen­tly whisk in the dry ingre­di­ents and then the rose­mary. Switch to a spat­ula and fold in the oil. The bat­ter will be thick and shiny. Scrape it into the pan and smooth the top.

Bake the cake for 50 to 55 min­utes, or until it is golden and starts to come away from the sides of the pan; a knife inserted into the cen­ter of the cake will come out clean. Cool on a rack for 5 min­utes, then run a knife between the cake and the sides of the pan. Unmold and cool to room tem­per­a­ture right-side up.

Storing: You can keep the cake at room tem­per­a­ture for at least 4 days or freeze it for up to 2 months


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