Olive Oil in the Dessert Maker's Pantry

November  3, 2014

Every week, baking expert Alice Medrich is going rogue on Food52 -- with shortcuts, hacks, and game-changing recipes.

Today: Get more olive oil in your desserts with a few tips from Alice (starting with Sherry Olive Oil Pound Cake). 

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Every year about now, the best food purveyors bring in a small quantity of “olio nuovo”: fresh oil from the first pressing of the new olive crop. This oil is bottled without filtering and is meant to used within 3 or 4 months when it’s at its best. 

New oil is a celebration of the harvest, appreciated by connoisseurs and enthusiastic fans like me! The oil itself is cloudy with olive particles and bursts with grassy, peppery, and pungent flavor. Olio nuovo from Italy can be luxurious and pricey -- but the olio nuovo from California is of very high quality, even fresher than imported oil, and more affordable, too.

More: A genius Meyer lemon olive oil custard + 3 ways to use it.

Buy a bottle! Find any excuse to sop it up with bread, or drizzle it over greens, warm cannellini beans, grilled fish, or pasta. Dessert lovers should pour it over vanilla ice cream or anoint almond or hazelnut biscotti with it. 

Don’t bother to bake or cook with new oil. But do, instead, make room for it in the pantry by baking with the older (filtered), but still excellent, extra-virgin oil you have on hand. Olive oil cannot replace butter in every cake or cookie, but below are three types of recipes which take beautifully and deliciously to this flavorful ingredient swap. 

olive oil pound cake

1. Substitute extra-virgin olive oil for butter in a classic genoise -- you can grate a little citrus zest into the bowl while you are at it.  

2. Make a chocolate nut torte such as the iconic Queen of Sheba with extra-virgin olive oil: Use 10% to 15% less oil than the amount of butter called for. Then drizzle each serving with additional oil and a tiny pinch of flaky sea salt.  

3. Make the classic delicate, buttery wafers called "tuiles" with extra-virgin olive oil instead of butter. 

You can also try this gorgeous, easy-to-make Sherry and Olive Oil Pound Cake. 

Sherry and Olive Oil Pound Cake

Makes two 5- to 6-cup loaf cakes

3 cups (385 grams) all-purpose unbleached flour 
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups (400 grams) sugar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons grated orange zest (from 1 medium orange)
5 cold eggs
1 cup medium (amontillado) or dry sherry

See the full recipe (and save it and print it) here.

Get excited about Alice's forthcoming book Flavor Flours: nearly 125 recipes -- from Double Oatmeal Cookies to Buckwheat Gingerbread -- made with wheat flour alternatives like rice flour, oat flour, corn flour, sorghum flour, and teff (not only because they're gluten-free, but for an extra dimension of flavor, too).  

Photos by James Ransom


See what other Food52 readers are saying.

My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).

1 Comment

Sophie November 4, 2014
Alice, I can't help but mention the hazelnut-olive oil sticks on your own website. The ones with salt and pepper. Life-changing!