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A sweet surprise! Olive oil can be a versatile ingredient

By the Editors of Relish Magazine
A sweet surprise! Olive oil can be a versatile ingredient

Baking with olive oil is a way to up the healthfulness of any cake, cookie or quick bread. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats (the good fats) and antioxidants. Its typically fruity flavor gives a nice note of complexity to baked goods. Extra-virgin olive oil will deliver the most antioxidants, but for baking, opt for a standard store brand with a mild fruity, not peppery, taste, and save the expensive artisanal oils for drizzling of top of salads or bread. Substitute olive oil for butter at a ratio of 3 to 4; that is, use three tablespoons of olive oil for every four tablespoons of butter called for. Be aware, though, that subbing olive oil won’t work in recipes that call for the butter and sugar to be beaten together until creamy.

Olive Oil Cake with Poached Figs

Cake ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ½cup orange juice
  • Finely grated peel of 1 orange
  • ¾ cup olive oil

Fig ingredients

  • ½ cup chopped dried figs (about 12 figs)
  • ¼ cup orange liqueur OR 2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and oil a 9-inch round cake pan.

  2. To prepare cake, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Combine sugar and eggs. Beat with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in orange juice and peel. Reduce speed to low, and add olive oil in a slow stream.

  3. Add flour mixture and stir just until combined. Pour into prepared pan. Bake about 35 minutes, until golden and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

  4. To prepare figs, combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until the liquid is syrupy, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve warm over cake. Serves 9.

— Recipe by Tamar Haspel