Can You Use Olive Oil to Bake Cake?
Ever since I debuted my Flower City Flavor Company olive oils and vinegars, I’ve asked myself this question. I’m the ultimate sweet tooth person, so inquiring about new ways to utilize my products outside the norm has been a point of emphasis.
Luckily, Flower City Flavor Company Blogger and chef extraordinaire Jackie Ho took the time to test out my question and put it into a finished product. I think I’m regretting not taking a stab at this myself!
Before getting into the recipe, I asked Jackie to take a look at some theory behind why olive oil vs. butter, olive oil vs. other oils and substitute levels.
After you get some knowledge, we’ll get right into Jackie’s recipe. Enjoy!
Butter vs. Olive Oil
When it comes to baking, the decision to use butter or olive oil primarily comes down to a matter of both texture and flavor. One of the great benefits of using olive oil – in cakes, specifically – is that the texture will be fluffier and will stay moist for longer than if you were to use butter.
Cakes made with olive oil instead of butter also tend to be lighter in texture and less dense due to its higher fat content and lighter weight. Because butter contains milk solids and water (unlike olive oil, which is 100% fat), baking a cake with butter typically results in a more dense and structured texture. One situation where a denser cake may be preferred is if you’re baking a multi-tiered cake, such as a wedding cake.
If you are planning on storing your cake in the refrigerator, olive oil is also preferred, as refrigerating a cake made with butter will cause the cake to become more firm (whereas a cake made with olive oil will maintain its light texture).
Many cake and pastry recipes call for butter instead of olive oil because the goal is to create a buttery flavor. Examples of desserts where butter is typically preferred include croissants, butter cake, or pound cake. In other recipes, however, using olive oil creates a light, nutty, and slightly fruity flavor that you won’t get from just using butter. Olive oil often also better complements other ingredients found in cake recipes, such as fruit, nuts, or spices. Additionally, using good quality flavored olive oils imparts a unique flavor to desserts, such as the Blood Orange Olive Oil used in this cake recipe.
In addition to creating a unique texture and flavor, baking with olive oil actually adds vitamins and antioxidants that aren’t found in butter. Olive oil is also considered a “good” fat and has more benefits for your health and your heart than does butter.
If you want to bake a cake with olive oil but are using a recipe that calls for butter, you cannot simply substitute the same amount; rather, a slight conversion rate is required.
Below is a baking conversion rate guide for how much olive oil to substitute for butter depending on the amount (approximately .75:1 ratio olive oil to butter). The main reason why it’s not a 1:1 substitution is due to the fact that olive oil is 100% fat, whereas butter tends to be about 80% fat (and 20% water and milk solids).
- 1 teaspoon of butter = ¾ teaspoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of butter = 2¼ teaspoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of butter = 1½ tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup butter = 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ⅓ cup butter = ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ cup butter = ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ⅔ cup butter = ½ cup olive oil
- ¾ cup butter = ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup butter = ¾ cup olive oil
Other Oils vs. Olive Oil
When choosing which oil to bake with, the two biggest factors you want to take into consideration are flavor and quality.
Compared to other vegetable oils like canola or peanut oil, olive oil has a stronger and more fruity flavor. If you are looking for that fruity flavor, olive oil is the way to go; if you are baking with ingredients such as fruits, nuts, and spices, olive oil is also a great choice because its fruity flavor compliments such ingredients nicely.
When it comes to olive oil, not all oils are equal. Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality and most flavorful olive oil available. Extra virgin olive oil is made by grinding and pressing olives and extracting the oil without the use of any chemicals or heat, resulting in the purest olive oil flavor possible. When choosing which olive oil to bake with, a good rule of thumb is that if you don’t like the flavor on its own (or when dipped in bread or drizzled on salads), then you should not bake with it, as its flavor will come through in the final product.
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl. Set aside.
3. In a stand mixer, whip the eggs on medium speed until frothy and foamy. Add the sugar and lemon zest, and whip on high speed until fluffy in texture and pale in color (about 3 minutes).
4. Reduce the speed to medium, and slowly drizzle in the Blood Orange Olive Oil and Arbequina Olive Oil. Mix until all ingredients are well incorporated.
5. Reduce the speed to low, slowly add half of the flour mixture, and mix until well incorporated. Add the milk, and then add the remaining flour. Mix until all ingredients are blended and there are no lumps.
6. Grease the bottom and sides of an 8-inch pan with butter and Arbequina Olive Oil.
7. Pour the batter into the greased pan. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons granulated sugar all over the top.
8. Bake in the preheated oven at 350°F for 60 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
9. Let the cake cool for 20 minutes, and enjoy! Best served slightly warm.
So, Can You Use Olive Oil to Bake Cake?
Jackie’s Final Thoughts:
When it comes to cooking, I’ve always loved experimenting with new dishes. Part of the joy I find in the kitchen is cooking with new ingredients and playing with different flavor and texture combinations.
When it comes to baking, however, I was always taught to not stray from recipes. After all, baking is a science. So when I decided to experiment with baking with olive oil, I was a little nervous and didn’t know what to expect.
All I have to say is WOW, am I glad I strayed from tradition! The texture of this Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake was so different from butter-based cakes I’ve made in the past – in the best way possible. The crumb throughout was consistently even, the texture was light and airy yet moist and decadent.
And the flavor was so unique. I thought that using olive oil would make this cake more savory, but that wasn’t the case. Instead, the fruitiness and slight nuttiness of the Blood Orange and Arbequina Olive Oils shone through and gave this cake a sophisticated touch and a certain brightness that was pleasantly unexpected.
I will be making this cake again, and I will definitely be experimenting more with baking with olive oils in the kitchen. Perhaps a combination of Blood Orange Olive Oil and dark chocolate, or Arbequina Olive Oil and yellow peaches. Or maybe even a savory Tuscan Herb Olive Oil bread loaf with olives and ricotta cheese. The possibilities are endless!
Ready to get baking? Check out all of our olive oil selections here!
Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake
A unique spin on a classic! The fruitiness and slight nuttiness of the Blood Orange and Arbequina Olive Oils shone throughout and gave this cake a sophisticated touch and a certain brightness that was pleasantly unexpected.
Keywords: cake, olive oil cake, orange cake, orange olive oil cake
Recipe Yield: 8 servings
Preparation Time: 30M
Cooking Time: 1H20M
Total Time: 1H50M
- 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 eggs
- 1¼ cups granulated sugar
- Zest from 2 lemons
- One 100 ml bottle of Blood Orange Olive Oil (about ½ cup)
- ¾ of one 100 ml bottle of Arbequina Olive Oil (about ⅓ cup)
- 1 cup almond milk (can substitute regular whole or 2% milk)
- For greasing pan: 1 tablespoon butter
- For greasing pan: 1 tablespoon Arbequina Olive Oil
- For topping: 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Preheat: Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Combine Dry Ingredients: Combine flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl. Set aside.
Mix Wet Ingredients: In a stand mixer, whip the eggs on medium speed until frothy and foamy. Add the sugar and lemon zest, and whip on high speed until fluffy in texture and pale in color (about 3 minutes).
Add Olive Oils: Reduce the speed to medium, and slowly drizzle in the Blood Orange Olive Oil and Arbequina Olive Oil. Mix until all ingredients are well incorporated.
Mix Ingredients: Reduce the speed to low, slowly add half of the flour mixture, and mix until well incorporated. Add the milk, and then add the remaining flour. Mix until all ingredients are blended and there are no lumps.
Grease Pan: Grease the bottom and sides of an 8-inch pan with butter and Arbequina Olive Oil.
Add Batter to Pan: Pour the batter into the greased pan. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons granulated sugar all over the top.
Bake: Bake in the preheated oven at 350°F for 60 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Remove From Oven and Cool: Let the cake cool for 20 minutes, and enjoy! Best served slightly warm.