Greek extra virgin olive oil is a staple of the healthy Greek diet and a versatile ingredient not only for savory foods, but for sweets as well. Olive oil cakes are common in the traditional cuisine of Greece and Cyprus and the results are delicious and moist. There are many variations and in most cake recipes calling for butter, olive oil is a great substitution. Tarts are a bit trickier and require a bit of butter for a flaky crust. Try the following dessert recipes to celebrate the festive holiday season.
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Greek sea salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 large eggs
1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
Lemon Glaze, optional, recipe follows
Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan, set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. In a separate bowl, beat the oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, eggs, and yogurt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 55 minutes to an hour or until golden brown and a cake tester, skewer, or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before removing from pan. Allow to cool completely before serving. If preferred for even more lemon flavor, when the cake is completely cooled, drizzle with Lemon Glaze.
To make Lemon Glaze, whisk together 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice until smooth.
For tart shell:
2 tablespoons almonds with skins, toasted and cooled
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
Pinch of Greek sea salt
1/2 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg
3 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil
For the filling:
3 large lemons
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 whole large eggs plus 2 large yolks
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a food processor, pulse the almonds, flour, confectioners’ sugar, and sea salt until finely ground. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal with some pea-sized lumps of butter remaining. Add the egg and olive oil and pulse just until the soft dough forms. Using an offset spatula, spread the dough evenly in the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch round tart pan. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes until the dough is firm. Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the filling, grate 1 tablespoon of zest from the lemons and then squeeze to measure 3/4 cup of lemon juice. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the lemon zest, juice, sugar, cornstarch, whole eggs and yolks. Bring the saucepan to a boil over medium heat whisking constantly and then allow to boil for about 2 minutes, continuing to whisk. Remove from heat and add the butter and olive oil, whisking to incorporate until smooth.
Pour the filling into the baked and cooled tart shell and chill for 2-4 hours to set.