Saturday, January 24, 2009

First Stab at Homemade Olive Bread


rachel may have told you that my first attempt was an unqualified disaster. scalded yeast lead to a dough that didn't rise and an inedible brick-like loaf.

this second attempt didn't come without some concern and trepidation... there was some initial concern that the previous error with activating the yeast properly may have happened again. at one point in the process my patient and understanding wife gently suggested that perhaps i should stick to mac and cheese, deep-fried turkeys, and southern brunches... and that maybe baking was not my calling... : ) she was particularly amused by the fact that despite my unqualified failure with a basic bread recipe that i boldly attempted a more complicated italian olive bread.

truth be told, i think she is right on that count, but nonetheless, in the end we ended up with an olive bread much improved over the previous attempt. perhaps a touch under-cooked and doughy, but at least there is some hope for the future baking ventures in the niles household.

see a pic of the results attached.


3 cups bread flour

1 7oz pkg dry active dry yeast (or 1.5 to 2 teaspoons)

2 tablespoons honey (or white sugar)

1/2 tablespoon fine sea salt

1 tablespoon onion powder

1/2 cup chopped black olives (I suggest unpitted deli olives of your choice rather than olives out of the can)

3 tablespoons olive oil (1 tbs for batter, 2 tbs for glazing loaf)

1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar

1 1/4 cups warm water (120 degrees F)

1 tablespoon cornmeal

1 tsp rosemary and thyme (chopped fine)


Sift flour, salt, onion powder into a large bowl.

In small saucepan heat water, honey to 120 degrees . Once liquid comes to temperature Add yeast and rosemary/thyme, mix and let stand 5 mins.

Into standing mixer add dry ingredients. slowly pour in water and yeast. let combine. then add olive oil and olives and thyme/rosemary. mix on 2 for 5 mins.

Round the dough on kneading board. Place upside down in a bowl lined with a lint-free, well floured towel. Let rise until double in size.

Turn out dough onto a floured board. Knead until smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes. Set aside, and let rise about 45 minutes, until it doubles in size. Punch down. Knead well again, for about 5 to 10 minutes. Let rise for about 30 minutes, until it doubles in size.

While the bread is rising for the third time, put a pan of water in the bottom of the oven. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C).

Gently turn loaf out onto a sheet pan that has been lightly oiled and dusted with meal.

Bake loaf at 500 degrees F (260 degrees C) for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Bake for 30 more minutes, or until done.

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