Spanish Olive Oil Tortas | Tortas de Aceite

Spanish Olive Oil Tortas | Tortas de Aceite Recipe

Most people in Spain tend to buy their pastries and cakes rather than make them. I was told that the local nunnery was the place to go, so I headed there. The nuns were hidden from view behind a shuttered window, and after a hilarious conversation with one of them I passed my money through a gap in the wall and lo and behold—the most beautiful little cakes and pastries appeared like magic. My favorites were these little tortas de aceite, or olive oil tortas, which the nuns were also calling tortas del virgin. You’ll be able to buy these in good food shops in larger cities, but I think it’s quite nice to recreate them at home.–Jamie Oliver

LC We Swoon For These Tortas de Aceite Note

Swooning alert. We’ve been wobbly in the knees for these sweet olive oil tortas since we first tasted them shortly after we moved to New York City. Nothing’s changed since then about our passion for these delicately crisp nibbles that are oh-so-lovely with some Prosecco. Except now we can make them at home rather than spend half a paycheck on dainty crisps in a flimsy package that are almost all in crumbs by the time you get home. And so can you. [Editor's Note: By "we," I really mean "me," Renee. But I've got a hunch the other lovely ladies of Leite's like these tortas, too...ladies?]

Spanish Olive Oil Tortas | Tortas de Aceite Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 50 M
  • Makes 12 crackers

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups Italian 00 flour* or cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • Scant 1/2 cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the baking sheets
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 3 tablespoons raw sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 2 teaspoons active dry or instant yeast
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  • All-purpose flour, for the work surface
  • 1 large egg white, beaten

Directions

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C).
  • 2. Mix 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and fennel seeds in a bowl. Set aside. Pour the olive oil into a measuring cup or another bowl with the water, then add the sugar and yeast and mix well. Set aside for a few minutes.
  • 3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and slowly pour in the yeast mixture, using a fork to gradually mix in the flour from the outside as you go. When it all starts to come together, use your hands to mix it into a lovely, smooth dough. If the dough is sticky as heck, add some or all the remaining flour, a little at a time, until a smooth dough forms.
  • 4. Lightly oil 2 large baking sheets, then dust them with confectioners’ sugar. Lightly flour a clean work surface and a rolling pin with all-purpose flour. Divide your dough into 12 equal-size pieces and shape each one into a ball, then roll out each ball until it’s almost translucent and about 4 inches in diameter. Place each torta on a baking sheet and lightly brush with some beaten egg white. Dust the biscuits lightly with confectioners’ sugar and then scatter a little raw sugar.
  • 5. Bake for 6 to 12 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Watch the tortas closely as they can burn in seconds. Immediately transfer the tortas to wire racks to cool for as long as you can resist tucking in. The tortas sorta flake and crumble as you take a bite, and will then quickly dissolve into sweet nothingness within a matter of seconds. So lovely.

*00 Flour Note

  • We (heart) 00 flour. The traditional flour used for pasta making, 00 flour isn’t inexpensive. But it is worth its weight in gold. Or tortas de aceite. Whichever you value more. Look for 00 flour at Italian delis and markets, specialty stores, and some grocery stores.
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Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Jeanie McCallister

Apr 04, 2014

I made these Spanish olive oil tortas thinking I wouldn't like them. I was wrong. The recipe was no-fuss—it was easy to put together, all the ingredients were in the pantry, and the cooking time was quick. The result was a slightly raised, fennel-y tasting biscuit that's a perfect pairing for morning coffee or an afternoon tea. I made 10 biscuits instead of 12. Each one weighed between 2.0 and 2.2 ounces. I used rubber rings (1/8 thick size) on the rolling pin so I could control the thickness. The diameter of each biscuit was approximately 4 inches. Perfect!

Testers Choice
Suzanne Fortier

Apr 04, 2014

These exquisite Spanish olive oil tortas are extremely easy to make, and they taste almost exactly like the commercial—and expensive—tortas de aceite you can find in many grocery stores. The instructions are clear, and the ingredients are easy to find, if they're not already on hand. (Tip: I passed over the cake flour several times because it was in a box, not a bag. This proves that you only see what you expect to see. Duh.) The dough is soft, fragrant, and slightly greenish from the oil. I did find that I needed to add almost 1/2 cup additional flour after first adding 1 1/2 cups in order to roll out the dough. Maybe start with 1 3/4 cups flour and go from there. I rolled my dough into a cylinder and cut it into 12 portions. Each dough ball weighed about 2 ounces. I rolled my dough to about 6 inches in diameter, which was thin enough to see through. It's a little tricky to roll a nice circle, but I'm sure that's just a matter of practice, and besides, these are a rustic cracker. Brushing the top of the torta with egg white and sprinkling it with sugar adds a lovely caramelized crust. My first batch was slightly burnt at 8 minutes baking time. I found 6 1/2 minutes to be about right, but I would start checking at 5 or 6 minutes. I took my tortas off the baking sheet almost immediately to avoid burning. They crisp up nicely as they cool. I made them a second time, with a few changes. I used instant yeast (as that's all I had on hand) and this worked great. The tortas seem to be a little flakier than the batch with active dry yeast. I baked this batch at 425°F instead of 450°F, and they came out perfectly in 6 1/2 minutes. So beautiful and so delicious! I love these for breakfast spread with goat cheese.

Testers Choice
Julie Houser

Apr 04, 2014

I recently purchased a package of Spanish olive oil tortas for the first time and was hooked. They're one of those wonderfully addictive food things that's not too sweet, has a fabulous crispness, yet is somehow delicate. I immediately looked up a recipe to make them at home, but none was that clear. Then, voila! One magically appears. Unfortunately, I'm not much of a baker, so the errors I made are all mine. But the flavor of these tortas de aceite is actually more interesting than the ones I had with the addition of the fennel. Perfect! I did use nearly a full cup more flour than the initial 1 1 /2 cups flour the recipe called for, as I had a batter, not a dough. This didn't hurt the final product. Also, rather than suggest dividing the dough into 6 pieces, which rolled out to frisbee-sized tortas, I'd suggest making golf ball-size blobs of dough. They're incredibly easy to roll out, although mine weren't thin enough. My most successful ones had thinner edges that crisped up beautifully. They just need to be rolled out to nearly translucent. I made them a second time and rolled the dough very, very thin. They were much better—delicious in fact, but I took the oven temperature down to 400°F and the bake time to 6 to 7 minutes. They were easier to roll by hand, as the fennel seeds caused holes in the dough when it was run through a pasta maker. I still can't get them quite as crispy and flaky as I remember the store-bought tortas de aceite being, but they're absolutely fabulous. I measured the extra flour needed to make a rollable dough, and it was an additional 1/2 cup. My yield was 24 cookies, each 4 inches in diameter. I'm now determined to get these babies perfect since I want to give them as Christmas gifts with a bottle of that gorgeous limoncello. Great recipe!

Testers Choice
M.K. Morgan

Apr 04, 2014

I was sure I wouldn't like making these Spanish olive oil tortas. I'm not a happy cookie baker or happy to do anything fiddly. And these were fiddly. But they were worth it in the end. The dough was way too wet to work into a "lovely smooth dough" with just 1 1/2 cups flour. I used Italian Tio 00. Even with almost 1/2 cup more added, it was a very soft, sticky dough. I gave up on the rolling pin and used my floured fingers to shape the 4 inch circles—that worked. The tortas de aceite did need a minute or two more in the oven than specified. These are tasty. My Portuguese daughter-in-law liked them and so did I. Maybe it's an acquired taste?

Comments
Comments
  1. Carla says:

    Any reason a tortilla press wouldn’t work? They might need a tweak with the rolling pin to get thinner…but I think the press will make the process quicker. I use the press for dumpling dough too.

  2. Martha in KS says:

    Of course these had to rhyme with Leite. I bought some orange tortas at a specialty store and they were delicious – I think 5 were $6 – not half a paycheck. Gotta love the midwest! I wonder if leaving out the fennel seed & adding orange zest would produce a similar flavor.

  3. ChrisJ says:

    Might be fun to make…once in awhile, but these are not at the top of my list to make on my own. My local grocery store (I work there as the cheesemonger) carries imported versions of these for about $4.59 or so for 5-6, and in varieties.

    Your mileage in the Midwest may vary.

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      ChrisJ, to your own taste. It’s like when a friend asked me, “Why do you make your own ketchup?” My answer: “Because I can.” Also, if they’re imported, you’re looking at a product that is at least 2 to 3 weeks old…hmmm.

  4. I’ve loved tortas since I was a little girl. I used to nibble on them with coffee. My fondest memories are snacking on these while my Dad served me my very own cup of coffee when I was 7. We are a coffee culture, so it’s not unusual to see children drinking café con leche y tortas. Now I will definitely make these. Thank you for the recipe and for allowing me to share this great memory.

  5. pamela says:

    Made them! Oh joy .. oh ecstasy. I think 00 flour makes the difference as to the amount of flour you need. Mine did great w/ 2 cups of flour. I did a bit of research on these puppies as they caught my fancy. I ended up infusing orange and lemon peel and the anise/fennel/sesame seeds into the hot oil… then discarding the peel. I tried 1/12th, and way too big. 1/24th gave me a nice 6-inch round. A bit labor intensive but worth it. I double panned them and baked on baking stones. 5 minutes more than enough. Next time I will try savory for appetizers. Very fun. My Cuban foodie friend said she hadn’t tasted one of these in 30 years. A definite repeater!! Thank you!!

    Tortas de Aceite

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