I Can't Believe…
February 3rd, 2012 - By Lari Robling
It's olive oil! Ellie Krieger says substituting olive oil in baked goods can be healthful AND delicious. But, according to Le Virtù's Pastry Chef, it's nothing new in Italian cooking. Learn how to take out the saturated fat and add some healthy antioxidants.
Sometimes, small changes over time ultimately net big results. As a former model, now host of the Cooking Channel’s Healthy Appetite, Ellie Krieger, has put that expression into action. "Olive oil has a positive effect on your cholesterol actually. So, the more in the extra-virgin range you get the more antioxidants are there.
Krieger is a Registered Dietician and recommends olive oil even in baked goods! "Things with nuts or fruits or anything on the more savory end, olive oil works beautifully." Just follow a few of her simple rules, "anywhere where you need to cream the ingredients together you would not be able to use olive oil. I find that with cookies you need some butter, I use some oil generally, and some butter."
Overall, Krieger suggests you can substitute olive oil in any recipe that calls for melted butter, 3 tablespoons olive oil for each ¼ cup melted butter. This may sound like a new technique, but olive oil in baking has been around for a long time. "My family's from Controguerra in the region of Abruzzo in the province of Teramo. This recipe was my grandmother's. I can't trace it back, it could be a couple of centuries, I really don't know." That’s Angela Ranalli Pastry Chef at Le Virtù in Philadelphia. Grandmom’s apple cake is featured on the menu. "The beauty of this recipe is you don't need a mixer or any kind of hightech baking equipment you can do it at home with a whisk and a spatula and a couple of mixing bowls," Ranalli says.
"Instead of sifting the flour, I'm just whisking it with the whisk. You put the dry ingredients into the wet, combine that, and then you are going to add in about maybe a cup of orange juice, and then the olive oil." When you add the olive oil to the batter, Ranalli offers these two tips, "you want to be really careful at this point not to overmix it. Because if you overmix it you are losing the whole point of using olive oil to keep the cake tender. You might be a little alarmed at the color, because if you are using extra-virgin olive oil, and it's a good olive oil, it's going to be pretty green in color. Because it comes from the first cold press of the olives."
Not to worry, after baking it's a beautiful yellow cake layered with cinnamon apples. For the restaurant Ranalli adds a topping, but the plain cake is a delicious reminder that occasionally we can have our cake and eat it too, if we keep an eye on healthier ingredients and portion control.