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April 2010  
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EVOO Shines in Greek Baking Study

Top 5 List of Olive Oil Myths

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Events in Season
Pebble Beach Food & Wine
Pebble Beach, CA
April 8 - 11

Earth Day Food & Wine Festival
Central Coast, CA
April 16 - 18

Greystone Flavor Summit
Culinary Institute of America
St. Helena, CA
April 22- 24

 Special Issue - Baking with EVOO
Extra virgin olive oil is making a splash in the baking world. It's replacing butter  to create sumptuous dishes: chocolate almond torte, pound cake, brownies, and savory tarts. EVOO may even reverse New York coffee shops' reputation for iffy food. "Can Olive Oil Cake Save Coffee-Shop Cuisine?" New York asked recently. The magazine examined olive oil cake's new role as the "star snack" at coffee bars.
Almond Torte-Medrich
EVOO's use in baking isn't new. Bakers in warm Mediterranean climates, where butter can spoil more easily, have long looked to olive oil.  Dessert guru Alice Medrich says American bakers first turned to olive oil instead of butter for health reasons. That's changed. "Now we want to use olive oil for the flavor of the olive oil as well as for health reasons," she says.

Fran Costigan, a New York pastry chef and culinary instructor who specializes in vegan desserts, says olive oil contributes a range of flavors: "EVOO adds an extremely subtle to assertive flavor component."

Bakers and pastry chefs tell us flavor and aroma aren't the only benefits. EVOO makes a difference in the texture of pie and tart crusts.

Our featured baker, Karen Holmes, of Karen's Bakery Café in Folsom, Calif.,  says EVOO  produces "a softer, more delicate dough with less sweet butter taste and more olive oil taste. This allows the pastry to show off better against savory components, particularly things that have a salty element to them."

We've found you can eliminate butter in many recipes and replace it with olive oil. Use EVOO so it equals three-quarters of the amount of butter. If a recipe calls for a stick of butter (8 tablespoons), for example, use 6 tablespoons of EVOO. Click here to see a conversion table.

Before starting, however, you need to consider what EVOO you'll use. Costigan advises using an oil that complements the flavor of the cake or pastry. "It is very important is to use an oil you would like to taste on a salad or bread - never an inferior oil," she says.

And, above all, don't be afraid to experiment. "Be adventurous!  Look for ways to incorporate EVOO into tea breads, cakes, chocolate desserts and ice cream," says San Francisco pastry chef Gayle Gonzales, the creative talent behind the blog, pastry studio: "You'll be amazed at the flavor and moisture it delivers."

 Featured EVOO Baking Recipes

 Featured Baker
Karen Holmes
Karen's Bakery Café
705 Gold Lake Drive
Sweet #340
Folsom, CA
Phone: (916) 985-2665

An Adrenaline Rush in the Kitchen ...
And Behind the Wheel

As a professional baker and chef, Karen Holmes spends a lot of time in the kitchen at her northern California eatery. Ask her what she does for a hobby and you'll get a surprising answer.

"I race a Porsche," Holmes tells us. Holmes, whose father raced cars, too, belongs to a local Porsche club. Racing provides an adrenaline rush, she says, similar to the one she gets running Karen's Bakery Café.

Holmes races at tracks near her restaurant in Folsom, about 25 miles east of Sacramento. The 1984 Porsche was a gift from her husband, who'd envisioned romantic road trips to Napa Valley and Monterey. He was in for a surprise when Holmes asked him: "Honey, do you mind if I put a roll bar in that car?" The rest is history. 

Holmes approaches her baking with the same sense of adventure, creating gorgeous cakes, tarts, pastries, croissants, scones, cookies, chocolates and more. But she declines to call her establishment a "gourmet" bakery.

"Everybody's definition of 'gourmet' is something different," she says. "Most of the time I say it's a foodie bakery." The bakery café serves a wide variety of baked goods, salads, and sandwiches, as well as a full menu for breakfast and lunch. Holmes uses fresh seasonal ingredients for her cooking.

Mastering the Brownie Torta at Age 12

Holmes' interest in the restaurant business began early. She didn't know it at the time. At age 12 she spied a cover of Bon Appétit magazine featuring a multi-layered brownie torta. "I remember looking at that and thinking, 'I've got to make that,'" Holmes recalls.
Karen Holmes

Inspired, she recruited her sister and the two prepared a special wedding anniversary dinner for their parents. Holmes enlisted a neighbor to buy the ingredients. "I still don't know where the money came from," she laughs. Regardless, the candlelight dinner included the brownie torta, as well as scampi, steak, and salad. The girls also drew up a menu. The dinner was a hit, and the girls threw special anniversary dinners the following two years as well.

But it was only after a stint as a kindergarten teacher that she found another audience for her baking. Holmes organized PTA bake sales. They were a success. She began catering events in the local area and landed a job as a baker at a Folsom restaurant. She left to start her own catering business and eventually opened Karen's Bakery Café in 2000. The original location was in the nearby town of Orangevale, where Holmes lives.

Holmes credits her Danish mother for her interest in cooking. "She came from an old world upbringing where cooking was absolutely everything," says Holmes. "We were the house that had 18 tins of cookies at Christmas."

In her baking, Holmes is an advocate of using extra virgin olive oil to replace butter in certain recipes.

"Don't be afraid to try baking with olive oil. Some of the best recipes and most delicious foods are direct results of people substituting components, either intentionally or by accident," she says.

"They say variety is the spice of life. I say go crazy with that spice!"

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Stay Healthy in 2010 with California Olive Ranch!

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