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We have only a limited amount of our Limited Reserve olive oil still available. We craft it with our finest first cold pressings from the first weeks of harvest. And we use a special blend of our Arbequina, Arbosana and Koroneiki olives.
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Olive Oil Container by Linda Suydam Swatez

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Congrats to Linda Suydam Swatez, the new winner of our Fan Photo of the Month contest. Linda shared this photo of the lovely bottles she makes for holding our extra virgin olive oil. You can order them at Linda has  won some olive oil for her photo. You can win this month's contest by sending us a photo showing how you use our oil. Put "Fan Photo" in the subject line and send it to the email address below, or post it on our Facebook page
Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts, by Alice Medrich

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Award-winning cookbook author Alice Medrich rewrites the dessert menu for cooks in search of totally doable desserts without hours of prep. In her highly acclaimed Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts (Artisan Books, 2012), you'll find the quickest lemon tart, an easy olive oil pound cake, one-bowl French chocolate torte, imaginative ways with ice cream, and more. Alice is known for her foolproof desserts - desserts that also taste phenomenal.

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Artois - AM 2011 Harvest
It's the start of a new year. And our olive trees have begun to hunker down for the winter season. They enter a semi-dormant state, "hardening off" to protect themselves from the rains and cold temperatures.

New Year's resolutions aside, we can't help but think of baking and comfort foods at this chillier time of year. Sure, we're looking to start 2013 right. But we're not ready to give up absolutely everything. In the kitchen, you'll find us firing up the oven and turning out chocolate cake, pear and almond cake, pound cake, and more - all using extra virgin olive oil, instead of butter.  We've assembled some of our favorite recipes below.

We find that good California olive oil adds a wonderful, nuanced flavor to baked goods. Using olive oil also contributes to a special, textured "crumb." And experts agree it's better for your heart than butter, which is higher in saturated fat. So what's not to love? (Click here to see a table for substituting olive oil for butter in baked goods.)

Baking with extra virgin olive oil has finally gone mainstream in this country - it's no longer just a health fad. There are moist and flavorful tortes, cakes and cookies showing up on more and more restaurant menus, in food magazines and on food blogs. Extra virgin olive oil is getting its due as a star ingredient.

"We are creating a whole new repertoire," says famed chocolatier and dessert chef Alice Medrich, who uses extra virgin olive oil to create a pound cake featured in her new cookbook, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts (Artisan Books, 2012). "I like to use the oil when I want the flavor."

The quality of the olive oil you use makes a difference.

"Only use an olive oil that you enjoy eating on salads, as a bread dip, etc.," Matthew Kadey, a registered dietitian, recipe developer, and magazine writer whose work has appeared in EatingWell and Men's Health, says. "If you don't particularly like the taste of a highly processed olive oil, why sully your baking with it. As the old saw goes: 'Never cook with a wine you wouldn't want to drink.'"

Our Favorite Baking Recipes
Olive Oil Pound Cake
Olive Oil Pound Cake Alice Medrich is known for her foolproof desserts. The award-winning cookbook author also is known for her delicious creations. This olive oil pound cake is from her new book, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts (Artisan Books, 2012). It's our kind of cake. "This is a simple basic cake for olive oil lovers," Alice notes. "Any extra virgin olive oil you like - from delicate to robust - will be good in the cake."

 Click here to see the recipe
Grown-Up Birthday Cake
Grown-Up Birthday Cake "A sweet sponge filled with jam and iced with a rich chocolate buttercream, this cake hides a grown-up a secret: The batter contains olive oil and white wine, making it fruity and complex," write Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, authors of the new book, The Food52 Cookbook, Volume 2 (William Morrow Cookbooks, 2012), where the recipe appears. As with many things chocolate, we'd recommend using our robust Arbosana oil.     

  Click here to see the recipe
Pear and Almond Cake
Chopped Italian Greased Pig Salad Award-winning cookbook author Marie Simmons moved recently to Oregon. And a "perfectly ripe" Bartlett pear there inspired this delectable cake. "A mixture of whole wheat pastry flour, ground almonds and coarse yellow cornmeal give the cake an irresistibly crunchy texture which is balanced by the delicate smoothness of the ripe Bartlett pear," Marie says. She recommends using our Everyday Fresh oil: "It's smooth, fruity, buttery taste won't mask the gentle flavor of pear."
  Click here to see the recipe
Olive Oil Lemon Poppyseed Cake
Olive Oil Lemon Poppyseed Cake Food blogger Jessie Oleson Moore created this cake by substituting lemon for blood oranges. She also likes poppyseeds, so added them. "DEAR GOD was this thing good," she exclaims on her wonderful blog, The cake is finished with a lemon almond glaze. Jessie used our  Everyday Fresh oil for this cake.   

  Click here to see the recipe
Banana Cardamom Bread
Banana-Cardamom Bread "Banana bread has a habit of welcoming the 'warm spice' family - cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, chai, etc. - into its battery folds," writes food blogger Alaina Sullivan of palate/palette/plate. "All add delicious depth, but, in my opinion, cardamom has an inexplicable edge over the rest." We couldn't agree more. Cardamom is near the top of our list of favorite spices. Try our fruity Arbequina oil to compliment the banana and cardamom.

Click here to see the recipe
Feta Sage Muffins
Feta Sage Muffins Matthew Kadey - a registered dietitian, recipe developer, and magazine writer - pens a neat food blog devoted to muffins: Muffin Tin Mania. He creates sweet and savory muffins. The muffins here fall into the latter camp. "There is just something about biting into a warmed savory muffin in the middle of the afternoon that lifts the spirits," Kadey says. The feta and sage deliver powerful flavors - and our robust Arbosana or Miller's Blend oils would add yet another layer of flavor.

Click here to see the recipe
The First Lady of Chocolate
A Chat with Alice Medrich
Alice Medrich Photo by Deborah Jones
Photo by Deborah Jones

Alice Medrich - known as the First Lady of Chocolate - introduced Americans to chocolate truffles in the 1970s. She's since become an award-winning cookbook author who's known for her foolproof desserts. Alice tests her recipes relentlessly to ensure they hit the sweet spot. Alice also is a big proponent of baking with extra virgin olive oil. She's created delicious cakes and biscotti for us. We caught up with Alice to ask her about using olive oil, substituting it for butter, and how she  keeps the pounds off while testing many delicious desserts.     


What advice would you give home cooks for using extra virgin olive oil in baking?


The best way to start using extra virgin olive oil in baking is to let reliable chefs and cookbook authors do the work: Look for recipes that already call for extra virgin olive!  


Otherwise, if you want to use olive oil in recipes that call for butter, you'll have to experiment a little. You'll have the best results if you start with recipes that call for melted butter rather than softened or cold butter.  


Often it's best to use a bit less oil than the amount of butter called for since the oil is 100% fat and butter is more like 85% fat.


How do you like to use California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil in your baking?


My latest book -  Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts (Artisan Books, 2012) - includes a great chocolate torte (see photo below) and a terrific olive oil pound cake. I've also reworked a classic almond tuile recipe using COR extra virgin olive oil instead of butter. And I've created recipes for biscotti and chocolate truffles. I love the challenge of reinventing a recipe with extra virgin olive oil instead of butter. I'm continuing to experiment with extra virgin olive oil. For me the priority is flavor; health benefits are a bonus!


How has extra virgin olive oil influenced baking in this country? Chocolate Almond Torte  


Pastry chefs and chocolatiers are using extra virgin olive oil in delicious creative ways, but the idea is still very very new to most home bakers. That's exciting to me: I love to introduce home cooks to new ideas, in this case cakes and desserts made with extra virgin olive oil.


How do you taste all the baked goods you're testing for a cookbook without letting it go to your waistline?


I work out twice every week, I run, and I take a few days off and live really clean with as few carbs as possible from time to time.


When you're not testing a recipe, what do you like to bake at home?


It seem like I'm always testing a recipe!


What do you like to keep in your home fridge?


Lots of salad ingredients, vegetables, fruit. Also cottage cheese, yogurt, eggs, tahini and other nut butters, pickled onions, fish sauce ... .



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