Cholesterol: How to get it under control and still eat dessert (and, yes, I've included a food recipe)

Cholesterol is not a problem for me. I could eat whole egg omelettes, well-marbled steak, pastry dough, and bread smeared an inch think with butter and never have a cholesterol problem.

The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for my husband.

So I've declared war on cholesterol-causing fats.

Out with the bad fats, in with the good taste
Obviously, the first thing to do is to use olive oil (which has good cholesterol) instead of oils with bad cholesterol (from a cholesterol point-of-view, plant fat is good; animal fat is bad - although, from a caloric point-of-view, both are high). This was never a problem for us. We already like extra virgin olive oil and use it in cooking and in baking and even happily drizzled on everything from bread to pasta. No problems, there.

(Speaking of fats, we don't like the taste of margarine, so we never use it. But even if we liked it, we wouldn't eat it. Why? Beyond concerns about preservatives and other chemicals, some margarines contain trans fat. And that seriously contributes to cholesterol.)

But butter. Ah. How we love butter. There is nothing that makes pie crusts flakier, mashed potatoes tastier, and bread food for the gods.

Unfortunately, it is also the cholesterol-maker. So butter has to go. One small problem. We also like our sweets. As in cakes. And who ever heard of a cake without butter?

I have.

"Yes" to cake and "No" to butter: Olive oil cake for a delicious dessert
I've been playing with olive oil cakes lately, such as this lemon olive oil cake. It does use a helluva lot of oil and egg yolks which are high in cholesterol (and I have trouble getting it to rise nicely), but it is easy to make and incredibly flavorful and satisfying. It makes a lovely Sunday afternoon tea cake.
Food recipe: Lemon olive oil cake
3/4 cup olive oil (extra-virgin if desired), plus additional for greasing pan
1 large lemon
1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
5 large eggs, separated, reserving
1 white for another use
3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Special equipment: a 9-inch (24-cm) springform pan; parchment paper

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease springform pan with some oil, then line bottom with a round of parchment paper. Oil parchment.

Finely grate enough lemon zest to measure 1 1/2 teaspoons and whisk together with flour. Halve lemon, then squeeze and reserve 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice.

Beat together yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add olive oil (3/4 cup) and reserved lemon juice, beating until just combined (mixture may appear separated). Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture (do not beat) until just combined.

Beat egg whites (from 4 eggs) with 1/2 teaspoon salt in another large bowl with cleaned beaters at medium-high speed until foamy, then add 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating, and continue to beat until egg whites just hold soft peaks, about 3 minutes.

Gently fold one third of whites into yolk mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.

Transfer batter to springform pan and gently rap against work surface once or twice to release any air bubbles. Sprinkle top evenly with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until puffed and golden and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around edge of pan and remove side of pan. Cool cake to room temperature, about 1 1/4 hours. Remove bottom of pan and peel off parchment, then transfer cake to a serving plate.
Please sir, may I have more?
Sure thing! Tomorrow I'll give you a recipe for quite a different type of cake - this one with no butter and no egg yolks, as well as a link to a yogurt cake. So stay tuned ...