The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Olive Oil

Country Bread Baker's picture
Country Bread Baker

Olive Oil

I am now baking whole wheat bread in four-loaf batches about two or three times a week as a nutritious food staple. I'm recently, very happily, retired into Social Security poverty.

And I may have recently painted myself into a baking corner.

For digestive reasons, I am changing a decades-old medication. This is causing its’ own digestive maladies.

Because I very much like the tastes, and for health reasons, I use olive oils of various brand names, grades, and “flavors” as the oil in the bread. This means that olive oil is both the oil in the recipe and on the pan.

The last batch of 4 loaves was baked with my favorite, familiar olive oil (Bertolli extra virgin). I’ve been experimenting with slathering the unbaked loaves with the olive oil, just prior to baking, with good results—until this last batch.

Very difficult stomach problems caused all-night acid that recurred each time I ate more bread—no butter nor other spreads or add-ons. I frequently eat the bread only. This digestive malady is certainly part of the pro-biotic balance changes now occurring as a result of the medication shift.

So I have dozens of questions I will be working on these next few weeks:

**Does Olive Oil go rancid? Did I purchase a bad batch?

**Are there more digestive pre-baking bread “washes” or “slathers”?

**Are there more digestive, but still tasty (and affordable) oils and fats?

**Which of the olive oil brands and/or grades (extra virgin, classic, light, etc.) will work best?
(an ongoing investigation of mine.)

**What am I overlooking?

Mostly I am verbalizing aloud questions that I’m assuming can only be answered by…practice, practice, practice.

But any observations, suggestions, comments, etc. are certainly appreciated.

Thank you, Folks, in advance.

linder's picture

 Yes olive oil can/does go rancid.  It needs to be stored in a cool place away from sunlight as much as possible and not exposed to air or heat anymore than necessary, until ready to use.  Were you using the last of the oil in the bottle for this last batch of bread?  Where do you store the oil? 

I'm not sure what effect you are after by 'slathering' the bread in olive oil, softer crust?  Maybe a bit of melted butter would work, either before the bake or spread on after baking?  Or perhaps an egg wash (1 egg and 1 TBSP water mixed, be careful here and bake the bread on parchment paper to avoid gluing the bread to your baking stone or baking sheet), this will give you a shiny crust.  Some folks also 'paint' the loaf with milk to aid in browning but be careful here that the crust doesn't overbrown(burn). 

Just some options -

Happy baking and hope your digestive woes leave quickly.  (I know how distressing those can be)


grind's picture

It sounds like you might be burning the exterior / slathering oil.  Baking bread crust gets pretty hot.

cranbo's picture

All oils go rancid in time, it depends on what temperature the oil is kept at (typically cooler temperatures will keep it from getting rancid more slowly). 

Depending on the temps that you are baking your bread (over 400F, for example), olive oil brushed directly on the crust may be breaking down/burning. See the Wikipedia page on oil smoke points, EVOO typically has a lower smoke point than lighter oils. 

If you are going for more of just a crust effect with your slather, you could try egg white, which is high-protein, low cholesterol and gives a good shine. You can make leftover egg whites into scrambles, or even freeze them to use later. 

Medications can really wreak havoc on your digestive system. Best to eliminate possible food-related causes of distress one by one. Good luck! 

Country Bread Baker's picture
Country Bread Baker

Well , Folks, you've already answered one of my unspoken questions. Thanks.

This past batch was the first batch in years that I carelessly placed the bread in a mildly too hot oven (400F) and mildly scorched the crust--so I thought. Usually the bread is placed in a 375F-380F oven and slowly brought to a brief 400F and then removed--usually with good results.

The higher surface temperature sure sounds like a problem.

If I discover that the olive oil is rancid suspect--Is there any good reason not to refrigerate the olive oil? It is not my habit to refrigerate it.

linder's picture

If you refrigerate the olive oil it will solidify - it's still good, it's just you will need to gently heat to room temp to return it to a liquid state.


dwfender's picture

There is no need to refrigerate the oil. Oil should last quite a long time if you just keep it in a cupboard and in an airtight container. Oil has a very distinct odor when it goes bad. It smells like paint thinner. It isn't pungent and not obviously soured, it just smells like paint. Olive oil itself obviously has a distrinct smell so it's pretty easy to tell when things have gone awry. 


Country Bread Baker's picture
Country Bread Baker

Thanks, dwfender, there is no smell of paint thinner.

I think the oil is OK. It is no longer that two months max since purchase.

It appears that I burnt the oil with too high a temperature.

But I have relocated the storage to a cooler place.

That leaves only a few more dozen variables to fine tune :) :)

Patf's picture

I don't know what your problem is, but I find I can only eat one or two slices of my wholemeal bread a day. Otherwise I get severe "rumbleguts" (apologies!.)

Just an idea.

And olive oil can go rancid, this happened to me once, so I always taste it before use.

gerhard's picture

The other big enemy of oils is light, we had a clear condiment squirt bottle filled with olive oil go rancid in under two weeks while sitting in a window.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

a small handfull sooths acid stomachs.  Check and see if almonds are compatable to your new medications.

pmccool's picture

as having ingested too much oil in the bread that upset your stomach?  Perhaps it would be better to bake the bread unslathered (is that a real word?) and then dip the bake bread in a tablespoon or less of olive oil as you eat it.  That would certainly give much better control over how much is actually consumed.


Country Bread Baker's picture
Country Bread Baker

Thank you, Farmpride, for homing in on exactly my current investigations!

I've already been intensely focused on the life of the yeast culture. I, personally do not use the word "proofing" or "prooving". I, personally, call it "incubation" because that more closely represents my own focus during that phase of the process.

I'm beginning, also, to understand that the magic of the flour is equally important.

you wrote: "...i may suggest that you soak your whole grain flours and or seed overnight with a touch yogurt or raw vinegar before using in the bread, and or allow for a very long overnight (12 to 16 hr.) proofing time..."

This is new to me. And worth experimenting with.

I'm already investigating the yeast's pro-biotic properties. And I buy and consume live acidophilus culture (the active and living yoghurt ingredient) from my natural foods supplier, when I can afford it. Right now in the rural season of "propane poverty", with negligible money left after fuel purchases, acidophilus purchase is delayed.

So you have confirmed that the living yeast culture works well with acidophilus; and that the two digestive communities "play well" together.

A current question of mine: Is it possible to allow the yeast to set too long?

linder's picture

Hi Country Bread Baker,

Can your system tolerate homemade yogurt?  That may be a good way to get the probiotics in your diet without having to pay high prices for them.  You would need some milk and a bit of store bought yogurt containing live cultures (most do these days) to get started. 


Country Bread Baker's picture
Country Bread Baker

I've just re-read Edward Espe Brown's Yeasted Bread Recipes from very early in the book The Tassajara Bread Book.

My copy is about 400 years old :) And beat to a pulp from centuries of overuse.

He introduced me to bread baking (also centuries ago); and I know that he can be a bit of an ideologue, but I just noticed during this afternoon's re-read that he recommends mixing in the oil/butter very late in the sponge/batter process--along with the salt.

I've always included the salt very late in the process, because of his early influence upon me.

But I've forgotten any suggestions that the oil/butter should be included later.

Does anyone else have any opinions about the timing of the inclusion of the oil/butter ??

Still struggling with the process and the digestion.

Thanks again, Folks.


Yerffej's picture

It is difficult to address your question without knowing what bread you are making or the complete process.



Country Bread Baker's picture
Country Bread Baker

Thank you, Jeff, for your concern.

This thread is discussing Ingredients.

There is a very intentional omission of specific breads and "complete processes".

The ingredient under discussion is olive oil.

For the sake of discussion, this last comment referenced Edward Espe Brown's very prosaic "Yeasted Bread Recipe" (whole wheat bread) which he uses as the underlying process for almost all of his many whole wheat breads.

But I could be making many other yeasted breads.

I am attempting to have a discussion about the nature of the oil and principles involved the timing of the oil's inclusion for a broad number of breads.

One may discuss the prefermentation process or autolyse or olive oil without needlessly limiting the discussion to a narrow recipe.

cranbo's picture

I believe later addition of fats enables dough strength to be developed early in the mix, to minimize the weakening effects of fat. Adding fat early can make doughs weaker. According to Dan DiMuzio in Bread Baking, this shouldn't matter as long as fats make up 10% or less of the weight of the flour. 

Country Bread Baker's picture
Country Bread Baker

Thank you, Cranbo. That's useful.

I've never heard it said that the fats/oils may have weakening effects on the flour. Certainly worth further learning.

Given my particular concerns regarding digestion and the interactions of grains, fats, eggs, yeasts, etc.--that will help me in "retooling" my approach to baking.