I love baking with olive oil in place of butter, particularly since we have a huge supply of our own olive oil harvested each year from the 100 olive trees on our property. Although I do not have anything against butter and do use it as well from time to time, we all know that olive oil is a heart healthy fat and is better for you than butter.
I have also been experimenting with different whole grain or nut flours to enrich my baking and make it healthier. Some of my favorite flours that I use often in my baking are oat flour, almond flour, coconut flour, and farro flour, both whole grain farro and white farro flour. I also use basic whole wheat flour, and especially like whole wheat pastry flour for my baked goods.
Obviously when you substitute whole grain or nut flours in place of all-purpose or cake flour it will change the texture of your baked goods, which in my mind is not a bad thing. I love the added texture and subtle density that these flours add, and although I do still have failures and flops from time to time, I find if I substitute half the regular flour with one of my specialty flours (rather than a complete switch) in any given recipe I am usually safe.
In some recipes, I’ll switch out half the flour for my preferred healthier selection, and then I tackle the sugar. I really would prefer to not use white sugar in any recipe if I could and instead use a natural sweetener such as honey or maple syrup, but I seem to have less luck making those switches and I’ll have to work on that aspect of my recipes.
I do like using unrefined coconut palm sugar for any recipe that calls for brown sugar, or where I think I could sneak it in, but it does add a rich earthy flavor, is quite granular, and will also change the texture and color of any baked goods it is added to. I find it works really well in some cookie recipes, especially those with oats or grains, and loaves or cakes that are dark in color anyway.
This loaf recipe is a real keeper. I’ll be honest with you and tell you that I baked five lemon loaves last week with varying degrees of success. I attempted to make healthy changes in each of the recipes, and although the loaves ended up okay in flavor, they were just not all pretty to look at, and therefore were not recipes I’d want to make again or share with my blog visitors.
Instead, I wrapped up each of the loaves and froze them for my grandchildren to enjoy when they visit next month. This recipe was adapted from Kim Boyce’s recipe for Olive Oil Cake in her cookbook Good to the Grain. The original recipe calls for dark chocolate bits which I eliminated. Instead I added some lemon zest and Fiori di Sicilia extract along with the chopped rosemary as I adore the combination of lemon and rosemary.
I used whole grain farro flour in this version, and increased the baking powder a bit. This is a very moist, rustic loaf that would be wonderful served for breakfast with fresh fruit, a dollop of yogurt, and a drizzle of honey as we sit outside on our patio in the summer amidst our climbing roses overlooking the lush Umbrian landscape beyond our property.
- 3/4 Cup (3 oz) Spelt or Farro Flour (I used whole grain)
- 1 1/2 Cups (7.5 oz) All-purpose Flour
- 3/4 Cup (4 oz) Sugar
- 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 3 Large Eggs
- 1 Cup (240 ml) Olive Oil
- 3/4 Cup (180 ml) Whole Milk
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Finely Chopped Rosemary
- Zest from 1 Large Lemon, Finely Chopped
- 1 Teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia (or Lemon Extract)
- 1/3 Cup Sugar Mixed With 1 Teaspoon Finely Chopped Lemon Zest
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and lightly grease an 8 x 4 inch loaf pan, then line the width of the pan with parchment paper.
- In one bowl, sift together the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
- In another bowl, whisk together the eggs until light, then add the oil, milk, rosemary, lemon zest, and extract, and whisk until blended.
- Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and stir just until combined.
- In a small bowl, rub the sugar with the lemon zest with your fingertips, then sprinkle it on top of the loaf.
- Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out cleanly.
- Let the loaf rest for 10 minutes, then gently remove from the pan with the help of the parchment paper, and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
- Slice and enjoy!