This could easily be the most relished bread in our home. A crusty olive bread with a extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dip in seems to make everyone here happy. According to my family none of the olive loaves that we have tried elsewhere quite match this. I know it is their way of telling me to make this more often – but am still happy when they say that 🙂 .
It is not surprising that this home made olive loaf is better than the store bought or restaurant versions. It is one of the side effects of baking bread at home ;-). The ingredients that go into a home made loaf is going to be of the highest quality that one can afford. It may not be the best of the best that one has to pay an arm and a leg for, but the best value for money you spend. I am assuming that if you open a can of olives and is put off by the metallic odor, you wont be feeding that to your family. The the company on the far end of the town might just do that.
The other side effect of baking or cooking at home is that one learns about seasonal foods and what goes into the food that you buy. Having an understanding of all these helps one make better buying decisions. This in turn leads to a better outcome for the families and the environment.
All that may sound good and noble but at the end of the day if the food that you prepare is not edible – it counts for nothing. This is where your taste buds , creativity and the willingness to try become important. For example I make these with kalamata olives cured in olive oil and red wine vinegar. If that is not your favorite or the use the best you like.
This Mediterranean Olive Bread uses only a few simple ingredients. The olives are the star and it shines through. All the more reason to use the best olive you have.
I use a mix of bread flour and white whole wheat flour in this recipe. But you could use any high protein white flour. If you are a beginner I recommend that you use all bread/high protein all purpose flour. It makes a beautiful crusty loaf. In fact I have 3 different versions of this bread. Today’s is made with regular commercial yeast – the active dry version. From start to finish it take around 3 hours. Again this is the version that I would recommend for beginners.
There is also a no knead version and my favorite the sourdough version. These two take longer time – almost 24 hours. All 3 versions follow roughly the same blue print , with different rising times and slightly different flavors. The sourdough one is the most intense one with incredible complex flavors while the regular version has more mellow flavors.
Unfortunately today I do not have any process shots. But it is very similar to a standard bread recipe.
Here are a few things to keep in mind
- Add the olives after the first rise.
- For extra flavor you can add a few olives towards the end of kneading , but keep in mind that these could add more salt to the recipe. Excess salt will destroy the yeast.
- Roasted garlic is a good addition to this recipe. If you add do it after the first rise.
What to serve with these ?
Well I usually serve these with olive oil and balsamic vinegar while we are waiting for the rest of the meal to finish cooking on the grill. This is not the Italian way I am told – but to heck with it – it is an absolutley delicious way to start a meal.
I serve these with Shakshuka for breakfast 🙂 or sometime with a hearty salad or soups. All I am trying to say is that use it any way you like – It is home made food – so your house , your rules.
A rustic olive loaf made with just a few ingredients.
- 2 C Bread Flour (240 g) See Notes
- 1 1/2 C White WW Flour (180 g )
- 1 1/4 Tsp Fine Sea Salt (8 g)
- 1 C Water (250 g)
- 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 1/4 Tsp Active Dry Yeast (7 g or 1 Packet)
- 1 Tsp Sugar
- 1/2 C Kalamata Olives Pitted and Roughly Chopped - See Notes
Warm 1/4 C water to 110 F or just warm to touch. Mix in the sugar and sprinkle the yeast on top . Set aside for 5 to 10 minutes until the mix becomes bubbly.
Take the flour in a mixing bowl (or on clean counter) and add the salt. Make a well in the flour and add the activated yeast to it followed by the oil. Add about half of the water and start kneading by incorporating more of the flour to the water. Add as much more of the water as required to make the a soft dough. Knead for 10 to 15 minutes until the dough becomes soft and relaxes a bit. First rise. Form the dough into a smooth ball and place in an oiled bowl. Turn the dough to coat all sides with oil. Cover and let it rest in a warm place for 1 hour or until it doubles in size
Uncover the bowl and punch down the dough. Dust the work surface with flour and place the dough on it. Add half the chopped olives and gently knead in. Repeat the process with the remaining loves , dusting with more flour if necessary. Once the olives are distributed evenly ( 1 to 2 minutes of kneading) shape it into a log .or 2 for smaller loaves . Place parchment paper on a baking sheet or dust it with corn meal and transfer the loaves to it. Lightly brush the tops of the loaves with oil. Cover and let it rise until almost doubled - 25 to 30 minutes
Place one oven rack in the center and another one just below it. Place a cake tin or small oven proof metal pan on the bottom rack. Pre-heat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Uncover the shaped bread and transfer to the hot oven. Add a cup full of ice cubes to the pan set in the bottom rack . Close the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (175°C) . Depending on the size of the loaf bake for an additional 15 to 25 minutes or until done.
To check whether the loaf is cooked through , tap the bottom of the loaf . When cooked through it will sound hollow.
Transfer to a cooling rack and cool before slicing.
- You could make this bread with all bread flour or high protein all purpose flour
- Increase the olive to 1 C for more intense flavors
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