Baking with Olive Oil

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If you are wary about baking with olive oil, try this recipe for the perfect pecan pie. It most benefits from olive oil's flavor, texture and aroma.

I’ve encountered a few wary cooks who were hesitant to try cooking and baking with olive oil, but I haven’t found a recipe yet that did not benefit from the flavor, texture and aroma of olive oil. The smoke point of extra virgin olive oil is 385 degrees. You can even deep-fry with it. When olive oil does smoke, it’s likely because it’s been adulterated with an oil with a lower smoke point. Otherwise, your pan is too hot (or you may be using the wrong type of pan). When baking, I prefer buttery varietals such as kalamata, koroneiki and Mission. To substitute olive oil for butter in traditional recipes, use this trick to help it act more like butter: Premeasure olive oil in tablespoon increments and then freeze it in ice cube trays. Always start with less olive oil than the butter called for, as you can always add more, but you can’t take it away. For more on olive oil, read the original article, Olive Oil 101.

Perfect Pecan Pie Recipe

Olive Oil Crust

• 1 1/2 cups organic all-purpose flour, sifted
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or Grand Marnier
• 1/3 cup buttery olive oil, frozen into ice cube trays
• 3 tablespoons very cold milk

Pie Filling

• 3 eggs
• 2/3 cup raw sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/3 cup buttery olive oil
• 1 cup pure maple syrup
• 1 1/2 cups organic pecans, chopped

1. Mix flour and salt in a bowl. Place bowl in freezer for 20 minutes.

2. Make a well in the middle of dry mixture, and add vanilla, olive oil cubes and milk. Mix well with a fork but do not overmix.

3. Form into a ball and roll it out on wax paper. Turn crust from the wax paper into an ungreased glass or ceramic pie dish.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat first five filling ingredients until blended, pour into crust then sprinkle in pecans; they will float to the top and stay there when baked.

5. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until middle of pie is set and does not jiggle.

Adapted from Olive Oil and Vinegar For Life by Theo Stephan, founder of specialty olive oil company Global Gardens. Global Gardens extra virgin olive oils have won 15 medals from the Los Angeles County Fair, which hosts a prestigious olive oil competition.

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