Corto’s Olive Oil Education 101: How to Bake with Olive Oil

Olive Oil 101

Ever stopped to consider why we add salt to almost everything? Certain ingredients are key to enhancing all of the other flavors in a recipe. 

In both savory and sweet creations, fresh Fall Harvest olive oil can amplify a dish and elevate the entire experience. We often revert to fats like butter and vegetable oil in baking – but opting for olive oil when making breads, cakes, muffins and cookies can add both flavor and texture.  

According to Pastry Chef Holly Gale, of Hearth Patisserie in Cleveland, “Baking is science. Baking is heart. And it’s creativity.” To that end, she says: “I love Corto Olive Oil because they have a product that allows me to do just that. I use olive oil in my breads, in my desserts, and in my own home. To me, it's important to use a company and an ingredient that I know is quality!” 

Just like in any other application, the quality and freshness of an olive oil will affect the finished product. 

Think of olive oil as a fruit juice, and freshness is the key to finding the best flavor. 

Fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oils are loaded with wonderful aromas and uniquely flavorful because they are made from olives bursting with flavor and antioxidants. Corto’s laser focus on freshness allows us to harness the best attributes in our oil that melds with other ingredients to add a subtle complexity. PLUS using fresh olive oil in place of other fats has added health benefits. (Cake can be healthy!) A recent study from Harvard School of Public Health found individuals who consume olive oil daily have a reduced risk of dying from heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease or Alzheimer's disease. 

Often, we don’t even realize that olive oil is at play in baking, but it is quietly making all of the other ingredients sing. Reem Assil, of the acclaimed Reem’s California in San Francisco​, uses Corto’s ultra fresh Truly in her trademark mana’eesh flatbreads. She proudly states, “Corto Olive Oil is the California magic that gives life to dishes.” 

In contrast, most other oils and fats have no flavor or aromas by design because they are refined, a process which strips them down to colorless, flavorless fat. Refined fats add only function without taste or nutrition. ​

How to Substitute Olive Oil for Other Oils 

The simplest way to try olive oil for baking is to use it in place of another oil, such as canola or vegetable. Olive oil can be swapped in an equal amount. Prepared mixes like for brownies are a great place to start, and olive oil adds both flavor and richness to the finished product. 

How to Substitute Olive Oil for Butter

When substituting the healthier alternative olive oil for butter, a general rule is to use a 3:4 ratio. Olive oil is 100% fat, while butter is a combination of 80% fat and 20% milk solids. Whether the butter is melted, or creamed with sugar in a recipe, follow the instructions, substituting the oil for the butter at three-quarters of the amount.

How to Make Olive Oil Cake

A classic baking application is olive oil cake. Simple and straightforward – olive oil adds depth and keeps the cake’s crumb moist and tender. 

Watch Holly make her recipe for Orange Olive Oil Tea Cake below. 


Variations on Olive Oil Cake 

Olive oil cake is a base for limitless variations using fruit, chocolate, flowers or herbs.

Chef Christian Reynoso, formerly of Zuni Café in San Francisco, adds a subtle heat with his recipe for Citrus and Chili Olive Oil Cake: “Olive oil cake is classic, so I thought why not try out a chili olive oil cake? My Citrus and Chili Olive Oil Cake has a little more sugar and a glaze to balance out the savoriness of the oil and I think it really works well.” 

Holly riffs on the classic combination of chocolate and olive oil with a recipe for Chocolate Olive Oil Cake with Rose Olive Oil Ganache. Here she uses olive oil not just for the cake, but to craft a finishing ganache as well.



Olive oil has limitless possibilities as an ingredient in our kitchens, and baking is no exception. 

Be sure to tag us in all of your creations!
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