I’ve made Olive bread many times before. It’s almost like one of our staple breads besides plain crusty white; poppy seed; herb bread; cheddar cheese; walnut and raisins. There are many recipes for Olive bread, but since the introduction of Jim Lahey’s “No Knead method,” this bread is now also made with this method. The advantage besides not having to knead, is the large holes and soft crumb and the crispy crust. Below is one of the more popular recipes which is very easy to execute.
380 gm organic unbleached flour
1/4 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
100 gms black olives in brine.
Water 1 1/4 cup plus 2 tbs olive oil.
Some flour or cornmeal for dusting.
Measure out the flour, add in the yeast and salt. Add in the water and olive oil. I use whole pitted black olives soaked in brine, and therefore I reduce the amount of salt in the recipe. Drain off the brine from the olive, cut the olives roughly into two or three each and then mix in the olives. Thoroughly mix all the ingredients.
Within the next 2 hours, stir up the mixture with a spatula or dough scrapper two to three times every half hourly to incorporate the dough and the olives more evenly. Let the dough proof at room temperature for 14 to 16 hours.
Next day, transfer the dough on to a floured surface and gently fold in the edges of the dough to the center to form a ball. I sprinkle the surface of the dough generously with flour. Place the dough seam side downwards on to a small round bowl which has been oiled. I use a plastic proofing basket which I have, (sometimes called brotforms or bannetons). As it’s a very wet dough, the basket will help to maintain the ball shape form. During the last 30 minutes of proofing, place a dutch oven or other metal /glass container with a lid in the oven and fire up the oven to 230˚C.
After 1 1/2 to 2 hours or when the dough has about double it’s size, transfer this into a hot dutch oven pot and bake with the lid on for 30 minutes at 230˚C. To transfer the dough from the basket to the hot dutch oven pot, I sprinkle some cornmeal on the dough then place a baking sheet over the ‘top’ of the dough still in the basket, place a baking peel over this and flip the basket over so that the ‘top’ end of the dough now sits on the baking sheet and peel with the seam side up. I sprinkle more cornmeal.
Lifting the dough up with the baking sheet, gently transfer this into the hot dutch oven pot. After baking the first 30 minutes, remove the lid of the dutch oven or steel/glass container and continue baking for a further 15 to 20 minutes to brown the bread crust.
“Baking bread is a lot like growing your faith in the Lord. You mix together the best ingredients you can find and wait for the mixture to mature, but it’s the heat of the oven that makes it something of worth and substance. The same way the tribulations of this world mature a person’s faith.”
― Dorothy Love ―