baking with olive oil

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”
Luciano Pavarotti

 Apple Cranberry Almond Olive Oil Pull-Apart Loaf & PopoversPillowy, soft, cloudy, dreamy, fruity, buttery, yeasty, sweet … difficult to believe that light tender goodness is achievable without butter, or rather oodles of butter, yet this recipe rang true! There was something about them, something that made me want to make them. Try these Apple Cranberry Almond Olive Oil Pull-Apart Loaf & Popovers; they’ll will make you sing this holiday season too!Tokyo Dec 2011This discovery is thanks to the Secret Recipe Club, December that I very nearly missed {I bailed out much earlier and the very sweet  Jane found a volunteer for me}, but Cooking With Chopin, Living With Elmo, a beautiful blog penned by Ginny, stayed in my mind. There was SO MUCH I wanted to make from there, but a very busy last few months, and a hurried trip to Tokyo had me unsure if I could make the deadline!Tokyo Dec 2011, Japanese Tea Ceremony

Tokyo Dec 2011

The Secret Recipe Club, the brainchild of Amanda of Amanda’s Cookin’. The idea behind the club – Each month you are “assigned” a participating food blogger to make a recipe from. 

It’s a secret, so don’t tell them you are making something from their blog! Click here if you’d like to join!!

Sure am glad I jumped right in because these popovers and this pull apart loaf were outstanding. They are wonderful for the holiday season, and can be dressed up for Christmas. Make ahead sounds magical for this busy time of the year, eggless and butterless making it feel less guilty {should you omit the melted butter on top}. Throw in some cranberries, almonds and pistachios {the red, white & green} to tie it all together.Apple Cranberry Almond Olive Oil Pull-Apart Loaf & PopoversYou might think no butter would make these not-so-delicious. Not at all, in fact these were uh-ma-zing {just like Ginny refers to The Pioneer Woman where the dough recipe comes from}. The basic dough is from Rees recipe for Cinnamon Rolls which look amazing and are typically full of buttery cinnamon goodness. Ginny made the cinnamon rolls from there and her post has excellent step by step photographs. She then went on to use the dough for an Apple-Cinnamon Pull Apart Loaf which looked gorgeous!Apple Cranberry Almond Olive Oil Pull-Apart Loaf & PopoversOne look at that post and I knew I had to make it come what may. Dashed out bought eggs etc, stocked the larder with staples I would need. Time to read the recipe – ” Hmmmm, no eggs? Had I missed something?” Read and reread the recipe … strangely enough it’s a vegetarian one. What a wonderful discovery! Yeasted bread sans eggs had me intrigued; soon the yeast was bubbling!Apple Cranberry Almond Olive Oil Pull-Apart Loaf & PopoversI popped the dough into the fridge for an overnight rest after the first rise, before adding the soda and baking powder. I later read that you can rest it in the fridge even after adding the two. I made the filling the night before too so I could get the loaves moving early the next morning. If you are better organised than me, you could possibly assemble the loaves the night before as well and let them slowly rise in the fridge overnight. Would make less work the next morning to let them rest out on the counter for a bit and then pop them into the oven!Apple Cranberry Almond Olive Oil Pull-Apart Loaf & Popovers Thank you Ginny. These are brilliant for the holiday ! The best part is that the end result is light as  cloud and delicious despite the lack of butter! The not-so-terrible-anymore teen who is back to playing the dieting diva literally inhaled two popovers … “These are SO GOOD” she exclaimed, reconfirming 3 times that I had used EVOO! {She had another couple after dinner, but no cream!!}Apple Cranberry Almond Olive Oil Pull-Apart Loaf & Popovers Changes to the recipe …a few basic ones. I had no walnuts so used roasted chopped almonds and skipped the cinnamon. I also had some dried cranberries soaking in fresh orange juice in the fridge for the past few days which never quite got to their destination, so I chucked them in too. Good move! More yumminess and flavour in there. The popovers came out really well, and I think the recipe would probably yield 2-3 dozen popovers in a muffin tray. {I did try to make a Christmas wreath too, but forgot to place a mold in the centre so the dough spread. I think a wreath would look great though!}Apple Cranberry Almond Olive Oil Pull-Apart Loaf & Popovers Oh, I also used an extra virgin olive oil instead of vegetable oil, but feel free to use any neutral oil. Tips: Don’t be tempted to add more flour as the soft, sticky dough yields a light as a cloud result. Also, try and keep the flattened out dough even and thin to achieve a good balance of fruit and bread. BTW, The popovers tasted great the next morning too; as good as new. Nom, nom, nom!This recipe was my first choice as I love baking with fruit, an idea I find entirely charming like the Apricot & Plum Cobbler above which was an earlier SRC choice, and these fun Apple Strawberry Basil Hand Pies below, again an SRC pick!I also love baking with extra virgin olive oil. I’ve baked with EVOO often – Olive Oil Walnut Brownies, Ottolenghis Olive Oil CrackersChocolate Almond Olive Oil & Whole Wheat Biscotti, Chocolate Matcha Olive Oil Brownies, Olive Oil Schiacciata, Eggless Chocolate & Vanilla Cake, Orange Almond Olive Oil Cake.

The folk at California Olive Oil touched base with me a few days ago as they saw my love for baking with olive oil.  They are trying to introduce folks to the concept of baking with olive oil – for the taste, for the texture, for the moistness, and for their health! You can find the recipe for my Olive Oil Walnut Brownies there too… Throughout December across the online community, California Olive Oil will be sharing chef/health expert interviews, twists on holiday baking recipes, conversion table, and of course, a fun contest to boot! They have partnered with the fine folks at Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods on a Facebook contest as well where you can post your favorite idea pairing California Olive Ranch and Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods. Feel a little less guilty for tasting all those holiday sweet temptations!

Apple Almond Cranberry Olive Oil Pull-Apart Loaf/Popovers

Prep Time: 3 hours

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes

Yield: 2 loaves or 1 loaf and 12-15 pop overs

A sweet and tart apple, almond, cranberry mix enveloped in a light, mildly sweet yeasted dough, drizzled with almond flavoured icing ... divine!


Apple-Cranberry Olive Oil Pull-Apart Loaf

1 portion dough {recipe follows}

3 medium size tart firm apples, peeled and chopped

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup chopped almonds {I didn't have walnuts}

1/2 cup dried cranberries, soaked for a few hours in orange juice

Zest and juice from half a lime {about 2 teaspoons of juice}

Dough {from The Pioneer Womans cinnamon rolls; dough can be made a day ahead}


2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup light olive oil {or vegetable oil}l

1/2 cup sugar

1 packages active dry yeast

4 cups {plus 1/2 cup extra, separated} all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon {heaping} baking powder

1/2 teaspoon {scant} baking soda

2tbsp unsalted butter, melted {optional}


1 cup powdered sugar

3-4 teaspoons water

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond

Cranberries, pistachios, almonds for garnishing

Chilled low fat cream to serve {optional}



    Mix the milk, olive/vegetable oil and sugar in a pan (LARGE POT). Scald the mixture (heat until just before the boiling point). Turn off heat and leave to cool 45 minutes to 1 hour.

    When the mixture is lukewarm to warm, but NOT hot, sprinkle in the Active Dry Yeast. Let this sit for a minute.

    Then add 4 cups of all-purpose flour. Stir mixture together. Cover and let rise for at least an hour.

    After rising for at least an hour, add 1/2 more cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir mixture together. {At this point, you could cover the dough and put it in the fridge until you need it – overnight or even a day or two, if necessary. Keep your eye on it and if it starts to overflow out of the pan, just punch it down}

    Apple Almond Cranberry Olive Oil Pull-Apart Loaf/Popovers

    Combine apples, sugar, nuts, cranberries and lime juice and zest.

    Pull walnut size pieces of dough with lightly floured hands {mine was very sticky}, and roll into small balls.

    Flatten each ball into a 2-3-inch circle on the palm of your hand, using a little flour if you like as the dough can be quite sticky. Place 1 teaspoon apple mixture in center of each dough circle.

    Pinch edges together to seal, forming a ball. Place filled balls, sealed side down, in a sprayed 9x5-inch loaf pan {I used an 8 X 8 loose bottomed tin, and several single muffin tins. You could also use a muffin tray. I lined the bottoms with circles of parchment and greased the sides. The baked delights came away from the sides quite easily}

    Spoon any remaining apple mixture evenly over the top.

    Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until double. Remove wrap, brush with melted butter if desired.

    Bake at 180°C 40-45 minutes. Cover with foil last 10 minutes of baking to prevent over browning. Cool for 10 minutes.

    Remove from pan and place on wire rack to cool.

    Combine icing ingredients and drizzle over loaf, followed by slivered almonds, pistachios and cranberries if desired.

    Serve warm or at room temperature {with unsweetened low fat cream if desired}

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