When it comes to cooking ingredients, olive oil is the king. This savory oil has been used for centuries to add its distinct richness to everything from meats to salads.
Did you know there is actual archeological evidence proving olive oil was used as far back as the Early Bronze Age? That’s over 3000 years ago!
While there are no doubts about olive oil’s versatility in cooking, many people don’t realize that it can also be used in baking. As a matter of fact, it can also be used as a butter substitute.
So if you want to know how to use olive oil for baking cake, then keep reading.
What do Fats do in Baking?
Before replacing olive oil in all your favorite baking recipes, you should know a few things about what fats do in baking.
Several kinds of fats are used in baking, including butter, shortening, lard, and oils.
These fats have four main functions:
- Add tenderness to a bake by stopping the flour from absorbing too much water, resulting in a dense, chewy crumb.
- Add moisture without the wetness as they do not evaporate during baking
- Allow the outside of the cake to brown to enhance the flavor
- Helps the cake bake more evenly.
Olive oil vs. Butter
Even though olive oil and butter are both fats, they have different sources, chemical structures, and baking behaviors.
In fact, butter consists of 80% fat and 20% water (1). Its rich, creamy flavor is something we are all familiar with as it is a longstanding staple in our diet.
One of the most important roles of butter in baking is during the creaming process, where it is beaten together with sugar.
This process traps air in the batter and helps the cake rise more to create a lighter, airier final bake. On the downside, butter is high in saturated fats.
Olive oil, on the other hand, is 100% pure fat that stems from an extensive process of squeezing olives (2). Because it is a liquid, it does not have the same ability as butter to trap air.
This difference affects the final texture of an olive oil cake, which is comparatively denser and flatter.
Olive oil has a pungent, distinct taste that can feel overpowering in a cake. However, it pairs well with certain flavors like citrus, which can help reduce its profile.
Choosing a Good Baking Olive Oil
The olive oil you use will make a big difference in the quality and taste of your cake. Many bakers agree they get the best results with extra virgin olive oil, the least processed form of this oil.
This preference is because cheaper olive oils are blended with other vegetable oils to help reduce the overall cost, affecting the flavor and aroma and eliminating the health benefits you get from using pure olive oil.
In such cases, it is better to use normal vegetable oil.
Before purchasing, always check the olive oil bottle thoroughly, particularly the words, harvest dates, and certifications. It should say extra-virgin. Words like light, ultra, or pure are not the same things.
Olive oil changes flavor over time. If a manufacturer has not mentioned a harvest or pressed, it is better not to buy it. Look for a company that is more honest about their products because that is where you will find quality.
You should keep an eye out for certifications from the California Olive Oil Council (COOC), the EU’s Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), or the DOP of Italy.
Olive Oil Cakes Recipes
To get the most out of olive oil when you are baking, try a recipe that has been designed especially for it. While you can substitute olive oil in other recipes that call for melted butter, in most cases, it just doesn’t work, and you might find yourself turned off by the whole idea of olive oil in a cake.
So do yourself and this amazing ingredient a favor by trying one of the recipes listed below.
Super Lemony Olive Oil Cake (3)
This incredibly aromatic lemon cake comes from Greece, a country well known for its high-quality olive oil. While this cake is on the denser side, it isn’t meant to be a brick.
Make sure to sift all the dry ingredients, then fold them gently into the wet ingredients until just combined. You shouldn’t see flower streaks.
Chocolate Olive Oil Cake (4)
This decadent treat uses cake flour for a delicately tender crumb and black cocoa for a deep rich chocolate flavor that blends beautifully with the olive oil.
It is topped with a sprinkle of ground chocolate and sugar, adding even more depth and a hint of sweetness to every bite.
Pistachio Olive Oil Cake (5)
This cake packs a nutty punch thanks to the pistachio flour that blends surprisingly well with honey, lemon zest, and olive oil. It bakes surprising light but retains its moisture, really filling you up.
Don’t forgo the cream cheese frosting. It lends just enough tang to pair perfectly with other flavors and takes it to the next level.
Health Benefits of Olive Oil
While there is a great deal of controversy when it comes to the health benefits of fats and oils, there is one thing all experts can agree on: extra virgin olive oil is good for your health.
- Has Antibacterial Properties
Olive oil can stop the growth and kill harmful bacteria like helicobacter pylori which have been shown to cause stomach ulcers (6).
- Reduces Inflammation
Olive oil is made of 73% monounsaturated oleic acid, which studies show can reduce inflammation, which is good for people who have chronic inflammation (7).
- Rich in Vitamins and Antioxidants
Extra virgin olive oil is particularly nutritious because it comes from olives loaded with antioxidants and vitamins like Vitamin E and K (8).
- Protects Against Heart Disease
Even though heart disease is the most common cause of death across the globe, it is less common in Mediterranean countries. This anomaly has led to numerous studies concluding that the diet in these countries focuses heavily on olive oil, which reduces the risk of heart disease (9).
- Prevents Strokes
Recent studies show a specific link between olive oil to strokes after studying the blood work of individuals who eat a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil (10). These people were less likely to have a cardiac event and reduced stroke risk.
- Doesn’t Led to Weight Gain
Yes, eating too much fat does cause weight gain. However, fat in the form of olive oil actually does not have a negative effect on weight. This was shown in a 30-month study on over 7,000 students (11). As a matter of fact, another study showed participants losing weight when they replaced the fat in their diet with olive oil (12).
Olive oil is a fantastic ingredient to bake with. It adds a unique hearty flavor to your cakes while keeping them moist and tender.
They are also versatile, and you can mix your olive oil cake with lots of different flavors like lemon and chocolate.
The best part is an olive oil cake is packed with all kinds of health benefits, making it an unexpected healthy treat!
Can you use olive oil to bake a cake?
Yes, you can use olive oil for all kinds of baked goods, like cakes, bread, and cookies. Cakes will be moister, denser, and flatter than butter cakes.
Is Cake Made with Olive Oil Healthier?
Olive oil cake has about the same calories as an unfrosted, unfilled regular cake. But it has more health benefits thanks to the high nutritional value of olive oil compared to other vegetable oils and butter.
What does an olive oil cake taste like?
A pure olive oil cake tastes very different from a butter-based cake. It has an earthier, bolder flavor.
It has a slight bitterness, as you find in dark chocolate. Olive oil cakes are usually flavored with chocolate, almond, lemon, and orange.
While these flavors compliment olive oil, you can switch it up and experiment to create any combination you like.
Can you use olive oil as a sub for butter in a recipe?
Yes, it is possible to substitute the butter in a baking recipe for olive oil but only for certain recipes. When a recipe lists melted butter, you can make a one-to-one switch.
For example, if the recipe requires 14 cups of melted butter, you can use 14 cups of olive oil. But be prepared because even a fourth of a cup of olive oil will change the flavor of your cake.
Note, you can’t substitute olive oil if the recipe lists room temperature butter for creaming or cold butter for cutting into flour.
Using olive oil in cake mix – is it possible?
Yes, in cake mixes, you can use olive oil. Olive oil can improve the taste of a premade cake mix. It tastes especially good with chocolate, lemon, orange, spice, nut, and carrot cake mixes.
However, it isn’t recommended for cake mixes such as funfetti or pineapple as the flavors can clash.
Is it possible to use extra virgin olive oil as a baking ingredient?
Yes! Many top bakers prefer to use extra virgin olive oil for baking to infuse the purest olive oil flavor into their baked goods.