“Olive Oil Baking” by Lisa Sheldon: Pumpkin Streusel Bread

November 29, 2007 in baking, cookbook, Food Porn, review

[This post first aired on the Paper Palate blog, a member of the Well Fed Network]

"Olive Oil Baking" cookbook cover for review

[I have included a small glossary of terms at the bottom of this post for some of the words that we may have heard a 100 times but never really took the time to look up.]

I recently had the pleasure of reviewing the “Olive Oil Baking: Healthy Recipes That Increase Good Cholesterol and Reduce Saturated Fats ” cookbook by Lisa A. Sheldon, who holds a Masters in Clinical Nutrition from UMass Amherst here in Massachusetts.

There is a relatively brief and to-the-point discussion at the front of the book on the various types of fats we eat, including trans fatty acids, saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fats.

The book reminds us that monounsaturated fats are the good guys and that olive oil is chock full of monounsaturated fats. Not only does olive oil have predominantly monounsaturated fats but it also is enriched in polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that may play a part in the heart protective qualities attributed to olive oil.

The book discusses some of the potential positive effects that olive oil has on:

  • Heart Disease
  • Serum Cholesterol composition and levels
  • Blood vessel function
  • Blood pressure
  • Cancer risk (breast and colon)
  • Arthritis
  • Other inflammatory diseases
  • Your skin
  • Management of blood sugars
  • Osteoporosis

Thus, in an effort to help more people take advantage of the health benefits of olive oil and to help people move away from using toxic fatty acids like margarine and hydrogenated lard products, Sheldon has provided a nice little treasure chest of recipes where butter and other fats have been replaced by olive oil.

I personally believe in butter (if sourced from a raw milk source), organic unprocessed animal lard, and minimally processed organic coconut oils. These and olive oil are only as good as you treat them so using them at as low a temperature as possible and as soon as possible minimizes the production of free radicals (the “bad” part of any of the bad fats).

The recipes in this book are an excellent alternative to the more traditional ones we have become accustomed to using.

The recipe chapters include:

  • Cakes & Desserts
  • Pancakes & Waffles
  • Quick Breads
  • Brownies & Bars
  • Cookies & Biscotti
  • Muffins
  • Coffeecakes
  • Savory Breads
  • Other Tasty Treats

Olive Oil Pumpkin Quick Bread w/glaze

Pumpkin Streusel Bread with sugar glaze

I tried one of the quick bread recipes because my homeschooling daughter and I are on a baking learning arc right now so quick bread fits in nicely.

This bread is delicious and perfect for this time of year! Because of the pumpkin, it is very moist and would do nicely as a cake as well. I actually forgot to put the streusel topping on it before baking so I toasted the topping mix separately and then added it on top before shooting the photo. I also added a sugar glaze (powdered sugar and milk).

Pumpkin Streusel Bread

2 T brown sugar
1 T all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 T olive oil

1 C all purpose flour
1/2 C whole heat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 C sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1C canned pumpkin
1/2 C olive oil
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 C milk or water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 chopped walnuts (we used none – we have bad nut allergies)


Preheat oven to 350 F and coat a 9X5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray or oil. We used a 9 inch cake pan! In a small bowl, combine all four topping ingredients and rub together in fingers until crumbly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, sugar, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice.

In a separate bowl, mix the pumpkin, olive oil, eggs, milk, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and combine but do not over mix.

Pour into the prepared pan, sprinkle the topping evenly over the surface.

Bake some 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick into the center of the bread comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack.

Book Details:

Olive Oil Baking: Healthy Recipes That Increase Good Cholesterol and Reduce Saturated Fats
Price: $13.57 USD, £7.78 UK
Hardcover: 144 pages
Publisher: Cumberland House Publishing (August 1, 2007)
Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 7 x 1 inches

Olive Oil Cake w/o glaze

Pumpkin Streusel Bread without glaze

Glossary of Terms:

Fatty Acids:
aliphatic monocarboxylic acids derived from or contained in esterified form in an animal or vegetable fat, oil or wax. Natural fatty acids commonly have a chain of 4 to 28 carbons (usually unbranched and even numbered), which may be saturated or unsaturated. By extension, the term is sometimes used to embrace all acyclic aliphatic carboxylic acids. (learn more)

Free radical:
In chemistry, radicals (often referred to as free radicals) are atomic or molecular species with unpaired electrons on an otherwise open shell configuration. These unpaired electrons are usually highly reactive, so radicals are likely to take part in chemical reactions. (learn more)

Hydrogenation results in the conversion of liquid vegetable oils to solid or semi-solid fats, such as those present in margarine. Changing the degree of saturation of the fat changes some important physical properties such as the melting point, which is why liquid oils become semi-solid. Semi-solid fats are preferred for baking because the way the fat mixes with flour produces a more desirable texture in the baked product. Since partially hydrogenated vegetable oils are cheaper than animal source fats, are available in a wide range of consistencies, and have other desirable characteristics (e.g., increased oxidative stability (longer shelf life)), they are the predominant fats used in most commercial baked goods. Fat blends formulated for this purpose are called shortenings. (learn more)

Mono-unsaturated fats:
In nutrition, monounsaturated fats are fatty acids having a single double bond present in the fatty acid chain, with all of the carbons in the chain single-bonded carbons in contrast to polyunsaturated fatty acids which have more than one double bond. (learn more)

Polyphenols are a group of chemical substances found in plants, characterized by the presence of more than one phenol group per molecule. Polyphenols are generally further subdivided into hydrolyzable tannins, which are gallic acid esters of glucose and other sugars; and phenylpropanoids, such as lignins, flavonoids, and condensed tannins. (learn more)

Polyunsaturated fats:
n nutrition, polyunsaturated fat is an abbreviation of polyunsaturated fatty acid. That is a fatty acid in which more than one double bond exists within the representative molecule. That is, the molecule has two or more points on its structure capable of supporting hydrogen atoms not currently part of the structure. Polyunsaturated fatty acids can assume a cis or trans conformation depending on the geometry of the double bond. (learn more)

Saturated fats:
Saturated fat is fat that consists of triglycerides containing only saturated fatty acids. Saturated fatty acids have no double bonds between the carbon atoms of the fatty acid chain; hence, they are fully saturated with hydrogen atoms. (learn more)

Transfatty acids:
Most trans fats consumed today are industrially created by partially hydrogenating plant oils - a process developed in the early 1900s and first commercialized as Crisco in 1911. The goal of partial hydrogenation is to add hydrogen atoms to unsaturated fats, making them more saturated. These more saturated fats have a higher melting point making them attractive for baking, and extending their shelf-life. Another particular class of trans fats, vaccenic acid occurs in trace amounts in meat and dairy products from ruminants. (learn more)