Friday, September 3, 2010

Kalamata Olive Bread

This was a special request...  from my wife.

We seemed to be seeing this bread a lot lately.  Old things are rediscovered, and the bakeries around us are suddenly selling artisan Olive Bread.

Jackie thought I could do one.... Who am I to disappoint?

I adapted this recipe from one featured in The Bread Baker's Apprentice.

I used a wet starter to grow the yeast.  

It sounds more complicated than it is. 

It just involves a very wet base, allowing that to break down the flour, and getting a very active yeast (starter) that is then mixed in with the main portion of the bread recipe.

Here's what I did...

For the Starter,

1 cup warm Water, 100 degrees
2 tsp fresh Yeast
1 cup All-purpose Flour

For the Dough,

2/3 cup warm Water, same 100 degrees
3 TBS Honey
4 tsp Yeast
1/4 cup plus 1 tsp Vegetable Shortening
4 3/4 cups All-purpose Flour
2 TBS Salt
2 cups Kalawata Olives, pitted, sliced into thirds
1 Egg, beaten for an egg wash
Pinch of coarse ground sea salt

First, make the starter...

  • Combine the water and yeast in a medium/large mixing bowl.  It will expand a great deal, so don't use a small bowl.
  • Stir to dissolve the yeast completely.
  • Add the flour and mix until all the ingredients are combined completely.
  • Cover with a cloth and ferment the starter at room temperature for 2 hours.  the starter will bubble and grow and look... alive!
To make the dough...
  • Combine the water and honey with the additional yeast in your Cuisinart (you can mix by hand if you like, but the Cuisinart makes it so much easier).
  • Add the shortening, flour, salt, starter and olives, mix on low speed using the bread hook until the dough is well developed.
  • Do a final kneading and form into a ball, then a bowl shape.
  • Place on a pizza stone, sprinkled with corn meal to keep the dough from sticking.  Or on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
  • Cover and allow 1 hour proofing time (rise).  Dough will double in size.
  • Return and slice tic-tac-toe pattern in top of bread, cover again and allow one final rise of 1 hour.
  • Do an egg wash over the top, sprinkle the sea salt on top
  • Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  • For a softer crust, bake away, but for that artisan bread feel, look and taste, On your stove top, heat a cast iron skillet HOT... HOT HOT HOT, on high for 5 minutes.  Just before putting the bread into the oven, put the HOT skillet in the bottom rack.  Add 2 cups of ice and sizzle, steam, sizzle.  Immediately put the pizza stone or baking pan on the middle rack and close the oven.  the steam will help to form that crusty snappy look and texture.
  • bake for 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees.
Allow to cool before slicing, but MY, My does your kitchen smell amazing while this is baking.

Came out terrific.  that crust is just what I wanted, and the bread is soft and sweet.  LOTS of olives in every bite and something special.  I have been baking a lot of bread this year, but this is just about my favorite.

Jackie liked it too!


  1. That is a beautiful loaf of bread! Wish I had a slice right now!

  2. Woweee! That is one gorgeous loaf of bread! Kudos, cher! Would love to dive right into it! Lucky Jackie!

  3. Kalamata olive bread is my favorite. I always love the little rolls they pass around at restaurants. The photo is gorgeous!

  4. 1,000 yeast agree. Dave is a nurturer!

  5. The bread looks fabulous. What a lovely golden-brown crust color!

  6. this looks a lot like the panera recipe too