The first time I had olive bread I was visiting my sister. I'm not sure why I found it so surprising because I've seen ingredients other than yeast, flour, and water incorporated in bread. Olives seem to be the perfect compliment to bread and I'll tell you I couldn't get enough.
My local grocery started carrying olive bread but I'm really not a fan of it. When I've tried it from the grocer the olives don't taste fresh and the bread was dry. I love to make bread so I worked at creating my own recipe. This way I know there are no preservatives, the olives are fresh, and the bread is extremely moist.
I prefer to make the starter the day before I'm actually cooking the bread but you can make the starter as little as six hours in advance. Bread flour is really critical to making good bread. Bread flour has as a higher gluten content which helps to create a chewier, better structured bread.
Calamata Olive Bread 2 cups bread flour 1 cup lukewarm water 1/2 cup of chopped calamata olives 1 tsp active yeast 1 tsp sugar 1/2 tsp kosher salt cornmeal for dusting
In a bowl, mix the lukewarm water, the yeast, and the sugar. Stir. After the yeast has started to activate, about 5 minutes, mix in 1 cup of flour. Stir together until the ingredients are well incorporated.
If you are making the above starter a day in advance cover with saran wrap and set aside. If you are making the starter within 6 hours of cooking, set in the microwave on the lowest power (P10) for one minute to give the starter a little nudge.
Once your starter has sat over night or for 4 hours, incorporate the olives, salt, and remaining cup of flour. Coat your hands with a little oil and knead the dough in the bowl. Sprinkle some cornmeal on your counter and lay out the dough. Cover with a damp towel and let rise for about 2 hours. After an hour and 15 minutes of your dough rising, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. I like to make this bread in a heavy pot. Place the pot in the oven during the oven's preheat so the pan is hot. Once the dough is done rising, about 2 hours, place the dough in the pot and place in the oven. Cook for about 20-25 minutes.
Food is so intriguing. I’ve always loved to cook whether it’s casual and simple or complicated and elegant. After living in the Midwestern United States all my life I find myself jumping between All-American foods and foods from other cultures. There is definitely a sense of comfort with cooking and enjoying food that I’ve grown up with.
I have a voracious curiosity to learn about all cultures, especially the Middle East/Mediterranean, Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai foods. I’ve learned that a simple curry dish or an Asian dumpling can transform your mood and be just as much of a comfort food as the foods you’ve known you’re whole life.
It is fascinating to me how each culture has such a diversity of ingredients, and when used with different combinations and cooking techniques you can easily transform the same few ingredients into a multitude of dishes. The unfamiliar, the diverse ingredients and techniques, can be intimidating to many people. I’ve created this blog to chronicle and share my explorations in the kitchen so that hopefully you will want to start experimenting in your kitchen.