The Olive Oil Hack For Fruitier Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry shortcake has been a go-to favorite for literal centuries, though its creation has changed over time. A recipe first appeared in an English cookbook in the year 1588 and featured a base of an unleavened cookie, not unlike a scone. But when the treat crossed the Atlantic Ocean, Americans started adding leavenings like baking powder and baking soda to transform the dry biscuits into an airy, cake-like dessert. 

Over the last several hundred years, the English confection has transformed into a delectable summertime treat with several iterations that have made the cake fluffier and strawberries sweeter. One of the most recent ingredient updates to this longtime favorite is an olive oil swap that truly elevates the dessert.

Using olive oil in your baking instead of other oils or butter can really take things up a notch, drawing out flavors and making everything have a softer texture. Though olive oil typically has a stronger flavor than vegetable, canola, or sunflower oil, its grassy and fruity notes often pair well with citrus and other fruits like strawberries.

Olive oil elevates the taste and texture of strawberry shortcake

When making strawberry shortcake with this ingredient swap, you'll want to use olive oil in place of butter. Because oil has more fat and nearly 20% less water than butter, your dessert will be more moist when it comes out of the oven. Plus, this trick helps for keeping leftovers fresh (if you store the cake in the refrigerator and it's made with butter, it will dry out quicker versus one made with oil).

As well, olive oil's light, fruity flavor will perfectly complement the sweet strawberries, along with the orange juice or zest that strawberry shortcake recipes often call for. The end result will entice your taste buds with a more complex profile than what is produced through traditional ways of making the dessert, and will change its texture for the better.

Though, you'll want to keep some butter handy—you'll still want to use it to grease your cake pan (which is probably way more effective than slathering your hands in oil and sliding it around the baking dish).

How to use olive oil in other baking recipes

Strawberry shortcake isn't the only dessert that tastes better with olive oil. You can use the liquid gold in a variety of baking recipes, just as long as they call for melted butter. (Solid butter is often creamed with sugar or cut into batter, which affects the texture and baking time.)

When substituting olive oil for butter, in general you'll want to use ¼ cup less to keep the consistency of your baked goods intact. If you're looking for an easy recipe to try the hack, this Meyer lemon and olive oil cake is a good bet to start.

Even better, you don't necessarily have to use the nicest olive oil in your pantry since not every cake deserves your fancy oil. Because baking recipes typically use at least a half-cup of the ingredient, the cost can really add up if you're using the best option money can buy. No matter what kind you use, you'll still get the same results — a moist finish and amplified fruit flavors — so save some cash by using a bottle that doesn't break the bank.