Growing up, I hated olives. I could not understand what people liked about them. Briny salty, squishy…ugh. Around age 13 or 14, I started to like sliced black olives on pizza. No other way, just on pizza with some green bell peppers and Italian sausage.
Then, in 2014, I spent a month in Croatia (you can read a little about that here). Olives and olive oil are a staple in Croatia. We ate at many traditional off-the-beaten path restaurants and were served olives or olive tapenade with dinner almost every night. We hiked through olive groves. We saw pieces of medieval olive oil presses. And I ate the olives, and dipped bread in olive oil (something else I had never really understood), and I began to love olives.
I am now picky about olives. Those black olives that I was first introduced to as a young teen remain a favored pizza topping of mine, but that is their only place. For snacking, I prefer kalamatas or “regular” green olives. Fresh, though, not out of a jar or a can. I have a favorite grocery store olive bar – one that’s not at my usual store – and I’ll pick some up every once in a while for a special snack.
Or for making this olive bread. I started a quest to learn how to make homemade bread a few years ago, and I’m still on it. There are so many different types of bread, different methods, different flours to try that I don’t know if I’ll ever be finished.
This bread is a keeper, though. I’ve made it at least half a dozen times in the past eight months, including as a Thanksgiving appetizer (where it disappeared rapidly, thank you very much, despite it’s non-traditionalness). It’s a basic white bread boule, one that’s crusty on the outside and chewy on the inside, studded with tangy olives. If you happen to have some canned or jarred olives lying around that you will never use, this is a good place to throw them in, as long as you mix in your favorite fresh ones, too. You can also add your favorite herbs (I usually add a heavy sprinkling of dried rosemary) or grated cheese (Asiago works well) to customize the loaf to your tastes.
Three different iterations of this olive bread. Yum!
from Foodness Gracious
- 3 cups bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups warm water, divided
- 1 3/4 cups pitted olives, chopped
- olive oil to coat the bowl
- cornmeal for dusting
- optional add-ins: dried rosemary, grated hard cheese, etc.
In a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, activate yeast with 1/2 cup warm water. Let sit for about 5-10 minutes, until the yeast it bubbly.
Add in flour, remaining 1 cup water, and salt. Mix for about 5 minutes with your stand mixer or by hand until the dough forms a ball. Coat the bowl with olive oil and place dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel, set in a draft-free place, and let rise until doubled in size (about 45 minutes – 1 hour).
After the rise is complete, punch down the dough and place on a clean, floured work surface. Press the dough into a circle. Sprinkle with half the olives (and dried herbs or cheese) and fold the dough in half. Press again, and sprinkle with remaining olives. Gently knead to incorporate and distribute olives. Shape into a boule and place on a cornmeal-dusted sheet pan. Cover and let rise until almost doubled (about another 30 minutes to an hour). During the second rise, preheat the oven to 450°F.
Once risen, slash the top using a sharp knife and place in the oven to bake for 50-60 minutes. Check after 30 minutes and cover with an aluminum foil tent if the bread is browning too quickly. Allow to cool before slicing and serving.
Note: If you follow the link to the original recipe above, you will see instructions for baking in a dutch oven. I do not have a dutch oven, and if you don’t either, this method works great!