March 8, 2012
Remember last year, when baking with olive oil became a thing?
Oh, wait. You’re not a food nerd like me? You missed that one?
Yea, totally understandable.
Okay, well, last year there was a virtual onslaught of baking-with-olive-oil recipes on the food blogosphere. Not that people haven’t been baking with olive oil for ages—they have, since wayyyy before 2011. But, somehow, baking with olive oil caught on in a big way last year and with good reason. Olive oil gives baked goods a luxurious feel and rich flavor. When you use a high quality olive oil with a distinct flavor that you love, you add its wonderful fruity and floral notes to your sweets.
When olive oil baked goods set fire to the food world last year, I bookmarked a bunch of recipes like this one which pairs olive oil and blood orange, this one made with spelt (intriguing!) and this one packed with zucchini, one of my favorite baking ingredients. But instead of trying those recipes, I embarked on my own olive oil adventure. A journey inspired by the delectable olive oil muffins at one of my favorite NYC brunch spots, Maialino.
It took a lot of recipe development to keep myself from using olive oil as a straight substitute for butter and to embrace my favorite oil’s distinct flavor, but every try was worth it. I ended up with these tender, delicately sweet muffins fragrant with orange and nutmeg (both perfect foils for fruity olive oil).
These muffins have a grown-up flavor, but are just sweet and fruity enough to get kids excited, too. They are still MUFFINS, after all! And—this might be the best part—they are ridiculously easy to make. We’re talking one bowl, people.
Give them a try and let me know what you think. Experiment, too! If you like more than one olive oil, half this recipe and try both. Whatever you use, though, make sure it’s a high quality olive oil with body and flavor all its own, something you’d use to dip bread or finish a dish.
Orange Nutmeg Olive Oil Muffins
makes 18 muffins
(can be shared with kids 8+ mos)*
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 teaspoons nutmeg, use freshly ground if possible
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup high quality extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons orange zest
4 large eggs
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare muffin tin with paper liners and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, nutmeg, baking powder and salt until ingredients are well combined and all clumps have been worked through.
2. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and into it add the orange juice, olive oil and zest; stir to combine. Add eggs and continue stirring until they are thoroughly mixed into the batter.
3. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins, filling each liner up 3/4 of the way. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (save a crumb or two). Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing muffins from the pan and continuing to cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or store in an airtight container on your counter for 2-3 days.
*Note: According to the latest AAP guidelines, it is safe to feed citrus to babies beginning at 4-6 months. While raw citrus or citrus juice can be acidic for some very early eaters, it is unlikely to irritate them when baked into a muffin like this. These are a safe, fun treat for any child 8+ months managing soft finger foods. Just remember to keep portions age appropriate—while these aren’t super duper sweet, a little goes a long way with a young eater.