This homemade olive bread is so good and only takes a few hours to make. You’ll think it came from an old-style French bakery with its delicious chewy crust!
“When there is little bread at the table, put plenty on your plate.” – Italian proverb.
I couldn’t agree more, especially if it is filled with brine-soaked Mediterranean olives like this easy olive bread recipe I recently made was. I wish you could taste it because I know it would rid the thought some people have of not being able to bake their own bread. Once you make this olive bread, you’ll start baking all sorts of other yeast recipes because it’s such a fun and addictive process!
I love bread. What part, you ask? Well, there’s the smell, the texture, the coarseness, the sound, and the chew factor. Did I get you with that last one? The chew factor is what I call the burnt-tasting ring around the edge of the bread. It reminds me of the smoke ring that appears when you smoke some brisket or ribs. It’s flavor, and did I tell you I loved it?
Making Mediterranean Kalamata Olive Bread at home.
This is such a simple recipe with only five main ingredients. I know how easy it can be to just buy bread from the store. If you want good bread though it’s worth making your own! There’s so much satisfaction when you nurture something from flour, water, and yeast to a loaf of bread with a crackling crust and a smell that you’ll never want to leave your kitchen.
There are a few important rules when making any yeast product, don’t handle it too much and when to bake it. As soon as you combine the ingredients they start working together and the yeast begins to feed on the sugars in the flour. This creates carbon dioxide gas which is what makes the bread rise. If you can imagine thousands of tiny bubbles filled with gas the last thing you want is for those bubbles to burst and be left with a flat, dense piece of dough. That’s why it’s so important to handle the dough gently from the minute it starts rising to when it actually goes in the oven to bake.
How do you know when it’s ready to bake?
Bread and yeast products usually always get two times to rise. After the first rise, you will actually punch all of the gas out of the dough, but this is the only time you’ll do that. This is to get rid of any large gas bubbles that might have been created and the yeast will be strong enough for a second rise. It’s on this second rise that the bubbles will appear more even and creating a better texture.
After the second rise is when you’ll eventually transfer your bread to the oven. The dough should look almost like it would be if it was baked. It should be fairly firm and show no bubbles on the outer crust. That happens when the dough is left too long to rise and the gas begins to escape from the inside. This is called “over-proofing”. If you were to bake a loaf like this, it would be flatter and denser because the important gases escaped before you put it in the oven. The key is to keep those gas bubbles intact and inside the dough to end up with a light airy texture.
Which yeast should I use when I bake my olive bread?
There’s dry yeast and fresh yeast. Dry yeast is what you will see in every grocery store and it comes in little square envelopes or small jars. This is by far the most popular and easiest way to go when baking bread at home. Fresh yeast comes in a square block and feels like moist putty, and it smells. It’s mostly used in larger commercial bakeries where they need large quantities and they can use it quicker. Fresh yeat needs to be refrigerated and lasts only a few weeks at the most.
Red Star Yeast is my favorite brand to use when it comes to baking bread. They have three different types of dry yeast to choose from depending on your recipe schedule, and a website filled with tips and information saving me from any disasters. I used their Platinum yeast which really sped up the rising process for my olive bread. I’ve used this recipe before with regular yeast and usually had to let it rise overnight. Not anymore, I can mix this dough together at lunchtime and have crackling hot olive bread on the table at dinnertime!
Check out these other popular bread recipes, I think you’ll love them!
Homemade Mediterranean Olive Bread
Chewy olive bread is perfect for charcuterie!
- 3 1/4 cups bread flour plus extra for dusting your work surface
- 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 1 3/4 cups mixed olives pitted and roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil to coat the resting bowl
- Cornmeal for dusting
- Lay a clean kitchen towel on a cookie tray and dust liberally with corn meal. Set aside with another towel beside it. You will also need a large dutch oven or heavy ceramic pot with a lid.
Combine the flour, yeast and salt together in a stand mixer with a dough hook.
Add the warm water and gently mix together until the dough starts to come together.
Add the chopped olives and mix until well combined.
- Take the dough out of the bowl and knead very gently into a ball shape.
Coat a large bowl with the olive oil and return the dough into the center of it.
Cover with a clean towel and Let it sit until it doubles in size.
Once it has risen, take it out of the bowl and lay it on your table. Roughly press the dough into a flat circle.
Fold the dough over on itself kneading it back into a ball.
- Lay the dough onto the cornmeal dusted towel, seam side down.
Dust the top of the dough with some extra cornmeal and cover with the towel again.
- Let rest until it's almost doubled in size again.
- Watch it closely and when you see that it's almost ready, preheat your oven to 450 degrees F and place the empty pot into it.
- When the oven has reached it's temperature, take off the top towel and using a sharp serrated knife, cut two slits across the top of the dough.
- Take the pot out of the oven and very carefully lift and drop the bread into the pot.
- Place the lid on and put it back into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, take the lid from the pot and bake for a further 20-30 minutes and the crust is golden and crispy.
- Let cool before slicing.
Rising times may vary due to environment and temperature of the surroundings. Heat will speed up the process so small warm areas are great for letting the bread rise. Prep time above includes all resting times. Adapted from Jim Lahey, http://www.sullivanstreetbakery.com/home