As essential as olive oil is in my cooking, it has been under-utilized in my baking until fairly recently.
Each year, (as far back as I can remember) just prior to Thanksgiving, I order our traditional panettone to be enjoyed on Christmas morning. This delicious yeast bread is made with olive oil instead of butter. It is absolutely delightful and was the inspiration to start using extra virgin olive oil in place of the usual butter in some of my recipes. I was pleasantly surprised when the first cake I made was exceptional moist, light and flavorful.
There are three fruitiness intensity levels of EVOO; Delicate, Medium and Robust. The delicate is more conducive for baking. as it only enhances the other ingredients, not overpower them.
Flavored olive oils are right at home in baked goods. The use of lemon olive oil, really enhances the flavor of cakes and biscotti and blood orange takes your basic brownie to a whole new level.
The best flavored oils are made by crushing the whole fruit together with the olives. This co-pressing process, called agrumato, in Italian, produces a superior taste to those oils flavored with extracts.
Extra-virgin olive oil contains tocopherols, antioxidants that keep your baked goods fresher longer, by slowing down the staling process.
Not only do you need to use less fat, replacing the butter with monounsaturated olive oil, means less saturated fat and cholesterol.
When baking with EVOO, the general rule for substitution is to use three-fourths the amount of extra-virgin olive oil as butter. So, instead of one cup (8-ounces) of butter, use three-quarter cup (6-ounces) of EVOO. This conversion is appropriate for most cakes and cookies. As far as icing (frosting) goes, I’d stick with the solid shortening. Butter and confectioner’s sugar work well together, olive oil and powdered sugar, not so much.