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Olive Oil for Baking?

Everyone knows that Extra Virgin Olive Oil is one of the central elements in the Mediterranean diet. Used to dress salads, soups, pastas, grilled meat, saute and grill veggies, the base of most sauces… the list goes on and on. But few know EVOO also has a role in Italy and other mediterranean countries as a baking staple. Yes, I said baking!  Cookies, biscuits, cakes and even pie pastry is made with EVOO instead of butter. Better for the heart, better for the waistline but is better for the palate? I mean come on…. so I decided to put it to our Olive Oil Merchant Test Kitchen (i.e.. my Mom) to see what she could come up with!

She searched Nonna’s archives and came up with this Olive Oil Cake recipe and man oh man…. am I happy she did! Made with our Tenuta Rasciatano Green Label (but another robustly flavoured EVOO would work too) it was absolutely delicious, moist and not too too sweet. Just the way we like it. Served with a slice of ripe pear on the side, the combo was wonderful after dinner treat. This is the type of cake that Italians would also have in the morning for breakfast with their cappuccino or eaten with a fork out of the pan at midnight when everyone else is sleeping – or maybe that’s just me!

Here is the recipe to try…

Olive Oil Cake

3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup quality artisan extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup amaretto liqueur (could replace with almond extract but only in extreme emergencies!)
1 tbsp finely grated orange zest
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup coarse-ground cornmeal
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
Icing sugar to sprinkle on top

  • Heat the oven to 350°F with the rack in the middle. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with olive oil and flour; tap out excess.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and granulated sugar until well blended and light in color. Add milk, olive oil, amaretto, orange zest and mix well.
  • In another bowl, stir together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add egg mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring until just blended (the batter will be slightly lumpy; don’t over-mix).
  • Pour batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with only a few crumbs, about 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
  • When the cake has cooled, run a knife around the perimeter of the pan and invert the cake onto a serving plate. Dust with powdered sugar, cut into 12 pieces, and serve.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Brenda Korby #

    I can’t make enough of these cakes.
    Elda said it reminds her of when she was little and her Mom made a similar cake. Maria didn’t wait to sneek a piece at midnight, she just “inched it to death”.

    Rick and Tom loved it and could not believe it was made with olive oil. I had Gudrun over and she raved about it, and wanted the receipe. I felt very flattered, as she is a writer for a couple very well known magazines. Then of course there is Tony, he said I could make him that olive oil cake anytime.

    I just keep making the cakes for friends and family, and the joy of serving it never ends. The other thing that is a treat………it is so easy.

    Thanks for asking me to cook this in the test kitchen.

    August 19, 2010

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