I was invited to the Morgenster olive farm recently, to witness this season’s olive harvest and oil pressing.
Tasting the olive oil as it came through the press, mopped up with freshly toasted slices of ciabatta bread was exceptional.
I was amazed at how simple the pressing process was. After the crates of olives came in from the fields, they were fed into a machine that washed and crushed them, pips and all, before pressing the pulp to extract the oil. No heat is involved making this cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil.
Italian owner Giulio Bertrand is very proud of the fact that his olive oil regularly wins international awards and is rated as one of the top olive oils in the world.
Armed with bottles of this wonderful oil, I headed for the kitchen to see how I could use olive oil other than just for cooking. I found it really good for baking – even in an ice cream.
LEMON AND THYME OLIVE OIL BISCUITS
Makes about 26
250ml castor sugar
30ml lemon zest
5ml baking powder
2ml bicarbonate of soda
15ml chopped fresh lemon thyme
160ml lemon infused olive oil
2ml almond essence
30ml fresh lemon juice
extra castor sugar for topping
In the bowl of a mixer, combine the sugar and lemon zest. Rub the zest into the sugar until evenly moistened and aromatic. Set aside to infuse for a few minutes.
Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Add the thyme and set aside.
Combine the olive oil, eggs, essence and lemon juice and whisk well. Add the lemon-sugar mixture. Beat for 3 to 5 minutes until thick.
Add the dry ingredients and beat until just combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking sheet with non-stick baking paper.
For each cookie, roll spoonfuls of the mixture, which is quite soft, into balls and place on to prepared baking sheets. Butter the bottom of a glass and dip the glass in the extra castor sugar. Press each cookie with the sugared glass to flatten slightly.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until cookies have puffed up slightly but still look pale.
Cool on the baking tray.
OLIVE OIL ICE CREAM WITH BALSAMIC SWIRL
large pinch of salt
4 egg yolks
200ml castor sugar
60ml olive oil
125ml balsamic vinegar
In a saucepan combine the milk and salt and heat to just below boiling point. In a bowl beat the egg yolks and sugar well. Add the hot milk to the sugar mixture while beating.
Return the mixture to the pot and cook over a low heat, stirring continuously, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon and thickens. Pour the mixture into a bowl and refrigerate until well chilled.
Remove and slowly whisk in the olive oil, until smooth.
Churn in an ice cream maker following the manufacturer’s directions.
BALSAMIC REDUCTION: Heat vinegar and sugar in a pot and boil until thickened. Allow to cool.
Serve drizzled over the ice cream.
OLIVE OIL AND PISTACHIO MUFFINS
10ml baking powder
125ml unrefined sugar
2 extra large eggs
15ml orange zest
15ml lemon zest
30ml balsamic vinegar
125ml lemon infused olive oil
200ml pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 180°C. Place paper liners in a 12-cup muffin tin.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Beat the sugar, eggs and zests in a bowl until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Beat in the vinegar and milk. Gradually beat in the oil.
Add the flour mixture and stir just until blended. Add half the pistachio to the batter and stir until mixed.
Spoon into the paper cups. Sprinkle with the remaining pistachios.
Bake until golden on top, about 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
OLIVE OIL CHOCOLATE CHIFFON CAKE
80ml cocoa powder
125ml hot water
10ml baking powder
125ml castor sugar
4 eggs, separated
125ml olive oil
80ml extra castor sugar
100g dark chocolate, chopped
Mix together the cocoa and hot water and set aside to cool.
Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the egg yolks, olive oil and cooled cocoa mixture. Mix until smooth.
Beat the egg whites until stiff, then beat in the extra castor sugar. Fold this mixture into the cocoa mixture.
Pour mixture into an ungreased chiffon cake tin. Bake at 180°C for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and invert the pan on to a cooling rack and leave until completely cold.
Remove from the pan and spread with chocolate glaze.
CHOCOLATE GLAZE: Combine the chocolate and cream in a bowl and microwave on 50 percent power for 2 minutes. Stir well until smooth.
Refrigerate until thickened then pour over the cake.
This glaze is thinner than a ganache. Decorate with chocolate balls or as desired.
OLIVE OIL AND POMEGRANATE CAKES
10ml baking powder
250ml Greek yoghurt
125ml olive oil
2 limes, zested and juiced, about 60ml
250ml pomegranate juice
125g thick cream cheese
500ml sifted icing sugar
5ml vanilla extract
15ml pomegranate glaze
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, mix together the yoghurt, olive oil, sugar, lime zest and juice. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
Add the sifted flour and mix until just combined. Scoop the batter into well greased mini cake tins or extra large muffin pans.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Remove from oven and turn out on to a cooling rack.
Spoon pomegranate glaze over each cake and leave to cool. Spread with pomegranate icing and decorate with pomegranate rubies.
GLAZE: In a saucepan combine the pomegranate juice and honey.
Heat over medium heat until the mixture boils, stirring occasionally. Continue to cook until the liquid reduces by half.
Cool slightly. Mixture will thicken as it cools. Reserve 15ml for the icing and drizzle over the cakes.
ICING: Cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in icing sugar, vanilla and glaze.
ROSEMARY AND OLIVE OIL FOCACCIA
10g sachet instant yeast
45ml chopped fresh rosemary
80ml olive oil
300-400ml warm water
extra olive oil
sprig of rosemary for garnish
Put flour, salt, yeast and rosemary into a bowl and mix. Add the olive oil.
Add the honey to the water and add enough to mix into a dough that is soft but not sticky.
Knead well until smooth and elastic. Put the dough into an oiled plastic bag and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size.
Remove from the bag and roll out into a rectangle to fit a 20x30cm greased baking tray. Cover with oiled plastic and allow to rise again for 20 minutes.
Use your finger or the back of a wooden spoon to dimple the dough.
Generously drizzle with extra olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Bake at 200°C for 20 to 30 minutes until golden. Remove and cool. - The Star