Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil for Healthy and Delicious Baking

Extra virgin olive oil can add new flavors and characteristics to all kinds of baked goods while decreasing the consumption of unhealthy fats.
By Paolo DeAndreis
Dec. 9, 2021 09:36 UTC

The health ben­e­fits and unique fla­vors of extra vir­gin olive oil have made inroads in the bak­ing world in the last decades.

This is espe­cially true in Spain and Italy, where olive oil cul­ture has thrived for gen­er­a­tions.

The first step is to choose the olive oil best suited for your bak­ing expe­ri­ence, a choice that will sig­nif­i­cantly impact on the final result.- Antonio Campeggio, pas­try chef

Now, renowned pas­try chefs are using extra vir­gin olive oil in new and inno­v­a­tive ways, while researchers work to pro­duce solid olive oils that are capa­ble of offer­ing but­ter-like tex­tures and sta­bil­ity at room tem­per­a­ture.

Using extra vir­gin olive oil for bak­ing cre­ates new kinds of solu­tions,” Alessio Busi, a food tech­nol­ogy con­sul­tant at Omar SNC, a food­ser­vice and tech­nol­ogy com­pany, told Olive Oil Times.

See Also:Olive Oil Basics

For Busi, olive oil’s dis­tinct char­ac­ter­is­tics, includ­ing its liq­uid form and strong fla­vors, sug­gest that it can­not be used as a direct replace­ment for but­ter.

What pas­try chefs can do is use olive oil to explore and cre­ate new and dif­fer­ent prod­ucts,” he said.

An increas­ing num­ber of olive oil som­me­liers are ask­ing bak­ers to explore the oppor­tu­ni­ties that extra vir­gin olive oil brings to the bak­ing world.

They see EVOO as a viable plant-based alter­na­tive to ani­mal prod­ucts and a health­ier option to tra­di­tional pas­tries

How to choose the per­fect olive oil for bak­ing

The first step is to choose the olive oil best suited for your bak­ing expe­ri­ence, a choice that will sig­nif­i­cantly impact on the final result,” Antonio Campeggio, a pio­neer in olive oil bak­ing and famous Italian pas­try chef from Puglia, told Olive Oil Times.

Its acid­ity should be as low as can be with such fine prod­ucts, and if it is organic that is even bet­ter,” he added. Its fla­vors should be round and soft, not intense because it is a raw mate­r­ial which has to amal­ga­mate with other raw mate­ri­als such as vanilla beans, whole­meal flour and so on.”

See Also:Food & Cooking

Located in Lecce, one of the largest olive oil-pro­duc­ing areas in Italy, Campeggio sees extra vir­gin olive oil as an obvi­ous ingre­di­ent for bak­ing. Still, per­ceiv­ing extra vir­gin olive oil’s pres­ence in short­crust pas­try, cup­cakes or choco­lates might sur­prise many cus­tomers.

People’s palates are not always well edu­cated. All know but­ter, not all know olive oil in baked prod­ucts,” Campeggio said. This means that we have to edu­cate them to rec­og­nize and appre­ci­ate that unique fla­vor.”

There is some work to do, but a high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil should be tasted,” he added.

How to bake with EVOO

While many pas­try chefs inno­vate with new bak­ing recipes that incor­po­rate EVOO, most home bak­ers and other chefs use olive oil as a healthy replace­ment for but­ter.

This hap­pens mostly in recipes that ask for the use of liq­uid but­ter, such as gra­nola, quick bread, brown­ies, muffins and some cakes. Many also use EVOO for short­crust pas­try too.


To obtain the best results, pas­try chefs replace but­ter with a smaller quan­tity of extra vir­gin olive oil and bake their goods using slightly dif­fer­ent tech­niques.

Butter recipes sub­sti­tuted with olive oil will need to be adjusted; 82 or 83 grams of extra vir­gin olive oil replace 100 grams of but­ter, with the rest of the vol­ume filled with water.


Olive Oil Raspberry and Goat Cheese Galette (Patterson Watkins for Olive Oil Times)

There are a few things we need to be aware of when bak­ing with olive oil,” Campeggio said. First of all, as it is a liq­uid fat, the result­ing prod­ucts, such as a typ­i­cal short­crust pas­try, tend to be more frag­ile, more del­i­cate.”

In such cases, the knead­ing process will have to be slow and care­ful, and might be helped by leav­ing the dough in a fridge for a while,” he added.

See Also:Recipes With Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pastry chefs warn that cor­rect bak­ing tem­per­a­tures for EVOO-based cre­ations are even more impor­tant than they are for but­ter-based prod­ucts.

Most bak­ing is car­ried out with tem­per­a­tures vary­ing from 150 ºC to 250 ºC. When bak­ing EVOO-based prod­ucts, high tem­per­a­tures might end up fry­ing olive oil within the prod­ucts them­selves.

Baking tem­per­a­tures should be mild,” Campeggio said. For instance, when work­ing on a bis­cuit or a cookie we should not be more than 170 ºC or 180 °C, since fry­ing tem­per­a­tures are around 175 ºC or 176 °C.”

He added that this means prod­ucts will have a straw yel­low bisque” tint instead of a cin­na­mon-like color.

While EVOO can­not replace but­ter in many recipes that ask for solid fat (which is sat­u­rated), it can still be used to enhance but­ter-based recipes.

For instance, should we have a recipe ask­ing for 1,000 grams of but­ter, one could choose to replace 400 grams of that with extra vir­gin olive oil,” Campeggio said. That would bring to a softer prod­uct, with EVOO used as an enhancer of the final struc­ture and tex­ture.”

EVOO as a solid fat for bak­ing

The next fron­tier for bak­ing with extra vir­gin olive oil is to have the unsat­u­rated fats of EVOO wholly replace the sat­u­rated fats of but­ter.

That is the main hur­dle,” Busi said. Whoever tries to bake a dough­nut using EVOO as the main fat will end up with a flabby prod­uct that is greasy and unbal­anced. Still, we can effi­ciently replace but­ter with olive oil in our recipes, but will need a workaround.”


Olive Oil Sablé Cookies (Patterson Watkins for Olive Oil Times)

A solu­tion some pas­try chefs are adopt­ing is to mix extra vir­gin olive oil with dif­fer­ently struc­tured veg­etable fats, such as coconut oil. This pro­duces a fat mix that does not include ani­mal prod­ucts and whose fla­vors may also offer hints of extra vir­gin olive oil.

We call this vegan but­ter, which you can eas­ily obtain mix­ing cocoa but­ter with olive oil or fats from rice and peanuts,” Busi said. That can there­fore be used to give value to local pro­duc­tions, for instance by choos­ing an extra vir­gin olive oil from a spe­cific region.”

In a not-so-dis­tant future, pas­try chefs and house­hold bak­ers alike could receive new inspi­ra­tion from sci­en­tific research.

Currently, sev­eral research teams are work­ing to find the per­fect solu­tion to cre­at­ing olive oil that is solid tex­ture at room tem­per­a­ture, which would offer new oppor­tu­ni­ties to the world of bak­ing.


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