This Spanish olive oil tortas, or tortas de aceite, tastes just like the store-bought sweet olive oil tortas by Ines Rosales. Crisp. Crackly. And with just the right amount of sweet.
These Spanish olive oil tortas are known as tortas de aceite or olive oil tortas in their native Spain. (They’re even, I’m told, referred to as tortas del virgin by nuns. You can bet I’m researching the why behind this.) I’ve been wobbly in the knees for the packaged version, known as sweet olive oil tortas, since I first experienced them shortly after moving to Manhattan. The brand I prefer, seeing as there are several, is Ines Rosales because their tortas are never stale, are unfailingly shatteringly crisp, are imbued with just the right amount of sweet, and are ever so gently inflected with the occasional fennel seed. They’re oh so lovely with sparkling wine and go uncannily well with salty nibbly things such as olives and hard cheeses. They’re close to perfect. My only complaint is that for years I lacked all self-control in this regard and would pay something close to half a paycheck for the delicate wisps that almost always end up in crumbs before I even open them thanks to their absurdly flimsy packaging. But now I can make them myself at home. And so can you. This recipe has been updated. Originally published April 4, 2014.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Spanish Olive Oil Tortas | Tortas de Aceite
- Quick Glance
- 30 M
- 50 M
- Makes 12 torts
- 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
- 1. Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°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 for the yeast to become frothy.
- 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. When everything 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 of 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.
Recipe Testers Reviews
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 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-inch-thick) on the rolling pin so that I could control the thickness. The diameter of each biscuit was approximately 4 inches. Perfect!
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 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 rustic crackers. 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), which 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.
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 started looking for a recipe to make them at home, but none was that clear. Then, voilà! One magically appeared. Unfortunately, I'm not much of a baker, so the errors I made were all mine. But the flavor of these tortas de aceite was 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 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 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!
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, which worked fine. The tortas de aceite needed a minute or two more in the oven than specified. These were tasty. My Portuguese daughter-in-law liked them, and so did I!