Cooking With Confidence
I think my favorite loaf ever!
Breads, Economical

Olive Bread

by Nick

I’ve been baking no knead bread every week or so for over a year now and I’m getting pretty decent at it. It’s really simple to learn and once you’ve made a few dozen loafs you start to pick up on subtle differences that make one loaf slightly better than the other.

Pretty much all of them are way superior than anything you can buy in the store though. That said, I must admit that I’ve been getting a bit bored lately with the standard recipe. That’s why I was very excited to get my hands on My Bread by Jim Lahey, the founder of the No Knead Method (My Review).

There are a lot of great recipes in the book, but the one that slapped me across the mouth right away was the olive bread recipe. Maybe it’s just because I love olives so much, but I had to make this as soon as possible.

I’d never had olive bread before, but I think it was probably the best loaf of bread I’ve ever made.

The crust on this loaf was great. Really crunchy and delicious. And the interior crumb was chewy and had a really nice structure. Then every other bite or so you’ll run into an olive which has made a rich, briny, salty pocket of flavor.

I think this is not something that most people are used to when they think of bread. I’ve talked to a few people about it and they stare at me… “So there are olives? In the bread? Weird.” Maybe it’s a tough sell, but I promise you won’t be disappointed if you try it (assuming you at least somewhat like olives obviously).

Yield
1 loaf
Prep Time
Total Time

Just a moment please...

Print Recipe Olive Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 Cups Bread Flour
  • 1 1/2 Cup Kalamata Olives, pitted, drained, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 Teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 Cups cool water

Helpful Equipment

Directions

1) Drain the olives and pat them dry. Roughly chop and make sure that all the olives actually don’t have pits.

2) Mix yeast and flour together in a large bowl and then toss in the chopped olives

3) Add water and mix everything together using your hands or a large spoon.

4) Cover this and let it sit at room temperature for 14-18 hours.

5) Take a large tea towel and sprinkle it liberally with flour and corn meal. If you don’t have corn meal you can just use flour, but corn meal adds a great texture to it.

6) Scrape dough (you’ll need to scrape it) out onto a floured surface and just fold it a few times, liberally flouring both sides if it is sticking. Eventually you want to form a ball or loaf with it. Turn this onto floured towel with the seam side down on the towel.

7) Cover with the towel and let the loaf ferment and proof for another two hours.

8) Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Let a cast iron pot heat in the oven for at least 30 minutes so it is as hot as can be. Don’t preheat the lid in the oven. Just the pot itself.

9) Once the pot is blazing hot, pick up the towel with the dough on it and roll the dough into the pot so the seam side is up again!

10) Put the lid on the pot and cook it for 30 minutes. Then take off the lid (be really careful of escaping steam). Cook it for another 20 minutes or so until the crust is a dark, walnut brown.

11) Let it cool on a wire rack for an hour before slicing it.

From Jim Lahey's My Bread.

Simple Ingredients.

Simple Ingredients.

If you’re a regular bread maker, you might note that this recipe is missing salt – a normal staple in bread. That’s because the olives have plenty of saltiness and over the long fermentation time, that saltiness creeps out into the bread. It’s seriously amazing.

Making the dough

The dough for this is just like making a normal no knead loaf except that you need to chop up some olives. Use good olives that are kept in a salt brine. Divina makes a great product.

Drain the olives and pat them dry. Then give these guys a rough chop and make sure that all the olives actually don’t have pits. Sometimes the pitting machines will miss one or two per jar. Be on the lookout! You don’t want Broken Tooth Bread.

Chunks are good.

Chunks are good.

Mix your yeast and flour together in a large bowl and then toss in your chopped olives. Don’t worry. The olives won’t turn the bread a strange color. Then add your water and mix everything together using your hand or a large spoon.

I prefer the clean hand method myself. After just a few seconds you should have a pretty moist ball of dough. It should be very wet. You wouldn’t be able to knead this even if you wanted to.

Just a few seconds to pull this together.

Just a few seconds to pull this together.

Cover this and let it sit at room temperature for 14-18 hours. I let mine sit for the full 18 and this is what resulted!

After 18 hours...

After 18 hours…

It’s a big bubbly mess. That’s good. That means the yeast has done its job.

Next, take a large tea towel and sprinkle it liberally with flour and corn meal. If you don’t have corn meal you can just use flour, but corn meal adds a great texture to it.

Don't make fun of my ugly 70s towel please.

Don’t make fun of my ugly 70s towel please.

Scrape your dough (you’ll need to scrape it) out onto a floured surface and just fold it a few times, liberally flouring both sides if it is sticking. Eventually you want to form a ball or loaf with it.

This was not the best one I’ve ever made.

Not my best shaping job. Whatever.

Not my best shaping job. Whatever.

Turn this onto your floured towel with the seam side down on the towel. The seam side by the way, is the side that’s on top in the above photo. So I flipped it so that was down on the floured towel.

Cover that towel and let the loaf ferment and proof for another two hours.

Baking the bread

After your bread has been proofing for about 90 minutes, preheat your oven to AS HOT AS YOU CAN. For me this was 500 degrees.

The traditional way to make no knead bread is to use a heavy enameled cast iron pot. If you don’t have one of those though, I’ve shown a few other ways you can bake this loaf in this post.

Assuming you do have a proper pot though, you want to get it blazing hot also. I usually let my pot heat in the oven for at least 30 minutes so it is as hot as can be. Don’t preheat the lid in the oven. Just the pot itself.

Once your pot is blazing hot, pick up the towel with the dough on it and roll the dough into the pot so the seam side is up again! It should look something like this:

It all evens out in the pot.

It all evens out in the pot.

If it’s a bit uneven that’s okay. The dough will spread out and even out as it cooks.

Baking the bread

Put the lid on the pot and cook it for 30 minutes. Then take off the lid (be really careful of escaping steam). Cook it for another 20 minutes or so until the crust is a dark, walnut brown.

Let it cool on a wire rack for an hour before slicing it.

Crusty and Delicious!

Crusty and Delicious!

One of the worries I had with this loaf is how it would be for a sandwich. No worries there! I’ve made a few turkey sandwiches with it and it is so good. The olives are fantastic. It’s ends up being a really subtle flavor throughout the bread. It’s not the overpowering briny flavor that you get when you actually eat an olive.

It’s subtle and salty and delicious.

I’ll be completely honest. I think this might be one of the better loafs of bread I’ve ever eaten. Definitely the best I’ve ever cooked. I just can’t say enough good things about it!

If you’ve tried olive bread before, leave a comment and confirm its amazingness.

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204 comments on “Olive Bread

      1. Thank you so much! I was a little nerve-wracked, but excitedly so. The no knead olive bread turned out wonderfully and was a big hit.
        My own problem – I should have waited until I got a replacement knob for my dutch oven, but now I will go buy a cool replacement.
        Can’t wait to try the original no knead and other versions as well.
        Bread. Yum!!!

  1. If I wanted to use sourdough starter in the recipe, how much would I use? Would that take place of the 3/4 tsp of active dry yeast? Followed your recipe and just pulled my first loaf out of the oven. Looks amazing and tastes delicious. Thank you so much. Leslie

    1. Hey Leslie, I’m not sure I can offer much advice there b/c sourdough starters can vary a lot. At a complete guess, I would say take the starter amount you would use for a normal loaf and use 1/3 of it since you let it rise for so long. Good luck!

    2. I ALWAYS use sourdough in all my breads. I use 1 cup of sourdough – 1/2 the yeast, then reduce the flour by 3/4 cup and reduce the water by 3 oz or 3/8 cup.
      So, for this recipe, use 3/8 tsp yeast, 2 1/4 cup flour and 9 oz water or 1 cup plus 2 TBS.

      1. My experience is that if your starter is active you don’t, or even want, any yeast in the dough.

  2. Hi Nick, First, let me say congratulation on your cookbook! I made the olive bread yesterday and I have questions. When I took it out of the towel to place in the hot pot, some of the dough stuck to the towel. And when we cut into the bread last night it appeared that it could/or should have possibly cooked a little longer. Not that we didn’t eat half the loaf! Should I have added more flour when I was rolling it? Or should I have baked it longer with the lid on? When I took the lid off, it was already somewhat brown so I only baked it for another 10 minutes cause I didn’t want it to burn and also the color at that point looked good. My husband thinks I should reduce the amount of olives that they created moisture. DEFINITELY going to make it again!

    1. Hey Judy!
      Glad you like the book. If the dough is sticking to the towel, you should be using more to dust the towel. It should pretty easily come off. On the cook time, I think you need to probably add 10 minutes onto the baking time. I usually bake mine for 15-20 minutes with the lid off. The bread will look pretty dark after 10 minutes but it levels off and doesn’t get a lot darker in the extra 5-10 minutes. You could also add that time to the covered time though!
      That should definitely solve the problem. I’m not sure I would reduce the olive amount just because that’s what makes it good. :)

  3. I want to make this with all white whole wheat or all whole wheat. Should I add more yeast or more water or both? This will be my first attempt at making bread. Thanks!

    1. Heya, shouldn’t be a problem. Yea… you might need an extra 1/2 cup of water or so. It should be really wet. If you want to have sure success for your first loaf, you can do half bread flour and half whole wheat… that’s what I typically do and it works great. Good luck!

    1. Yep Marshall. 500 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45-50 minutes makes for a perfect loaf. Remember that the first 30 minutes of baking the loaf is covered in a cast iron pot. It’s a really wet dough and can hold up to this kind of heat. It makes a fantastic loaf. Give it a shot!

  4. My first attempt didn’t come out as well as I had hoped. It came out pretty flat, but I think it’s due to the fact I let it sit for too long, over 20 hours (I didn’t time it well to start). I also didn’t like how moist it still is in the middle after baking since it has the texture of being undercooked (the outside is perfect). Would it turn out “drier” if the temp was lower and baked for longer without the lid? Thanks so much for the recipe.

    1. Hey Debbie, to me it sounds like your oven might be a bit cool. Do you have a separate oven thermometer you could use to check the temp? A hot oven will cause the bread to puff and then hold and will cook it evenly through. If definitely shouldn’t be doughy in the center, but 50 minutes at 500 degrees really should do the trick.
      Another thought… if you cut into it too quickly after baking, it might not have time to completely finish cooking. I always let mine cool for at least 30-45 minutes before slicing into it. Sorry it didn’t work perfectly for ya.

  5. Awesome bread, I also tried substituting the olives for caramelized onions (and added some salt) and it was absolutely delicious. Try it! :-)

  6. I am never moved enough to offer comments in cyber space but whereas this is the fourth time I have made this bread in the last month, I am moved to say how fantastic and easy this recipe is. Apparently I am well behind the mainstream because I had never heard of no knead bread, but having recently come from NC where I happened upon a wonderful olive bread, And subsequently googled that topic, your recipe came up. I have shared the recipe and your site with many others. All offer rave reviews. Wonderful, wonderful, easy and super delicious. Thank you.

  7. is it absolutely necessary to cover it with a lid while baking? can i , maybe, cover it with aluminum foil paper instead? i don’t have the quite tool yet… just wondering, thanks.

    and i plan to use bread machine to do the mixing and rising… what do you think?

    or can i let it rise in the fridge? really hot where i live, maybe not a good idea to let it stay out…

    thanks so much :)

  8. I’ve been making this bread for several months now and always a hit. I was hungry for olive bread and tried store bought but it did not hold a candle to this absolutely delicious home-made bread. Thank you for sharing your recipe!

  9. Hi Nick, I must’ve done something wrong cause my dough came out really wet when folding it, thus making it difficult. I had to use an enourmously generous amount of flour to get it close to workable. Anyway, my bread came out quite dense and seem kinda wet inside, not fuffly like a bread. What do u think I’ve done wrong?

    1. Hey Vera, it sounds like maybe you added too much liquid or maybe didn’t drain the olives enough. Not sure exactly. The dough should be fairly wet and you shouldn’t be able to knead it (hence no-knead), but it sounds like yours was maybe too wet.
      On the dense finish, that could be due to the extra liquid as well or if your yeast isn’t alive you’ll end up with a dense loaf. Feel free to email me if you have other questions or want to talk specifics. Sometimes it helps if you send me a photo or two (nick@macheesmo.com) and I can usually help diagnose what’s going on. Cheers!

  10. Thank you Nick for sharing this recipe. I bake my first Olive Bread and it was a big success!

  11. Such an easy & wonderful recipe! During the holidays my family and I always drive down to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx to pick up our Christmas meal ingredients which happens to include a loaf of olive bread. This year we will certainly be making our own! Thank you for the new tradition.

  12. Hi Nick!

    I find certain steps in this recipe quite tricky for someone who has never baked bread:

    1) I am afraid that if I sprinkle the towel with flour and corn meal “liberally” as you suggest, the dough may stick to it, especially since you instruct to cover it with the towel and let it proof (while it is covered by the towel) for another 2 hours. This is my first concern.

    2) As a novice, I find the next step even more challenging. You’re saying that the proofed dough must now be “rolled” into the hot pot. Sounds easy for an experienced baker, but how do I ensure that the proofed dough neatly drops inside the center of the pot in one piece without getting stuck to the sides of the “blazing hot” pot (esp. if it sticks to the towel)? Will the dough still be gooey after proofing in the towel?

    3) May I also add fresh rosemary along with olives? Won’t it affect the proofing time?

    Hope you don’t mind me asking these beginner’s questions.

    Thank you in advance for your advice.

    1. Hey Yuri! Sorry for not replying to your email. I do my best to get to all those, but it’s always better to leave a comment like this so others can benefit also. :) To your questions which are all great questions.
      1) The dough will actually stick if you DONT flour it liberally. The flour keeps the dough from sticking to the towel and also forms a crust of sorts on the loaf.
      2) To be honest, it probably won’t drop neatly inside the center of the pan. Mine rarely does… sometimes it’s smooshed to one side. You kind of just have to take a leap of faith and roll it into the pan. It’s pretty hard to adjust it once it’s in there though. However you get it in there, don’t worry about it. It will even out as it bakes and will not affect the baking at all.
      3) Sure. Rosemary is fine. I would go light on it as it’s a strong flavor. It wouldn’t affect proofing time at all or any of the other directions.
      Good luck!

  13. Thanks much, Nick. This is helpful.

    More questions re some details.

    1) In this or similar recipes where the dough is extra soft (almost runny) even after proofing would you prefer to use cotton towels of a particular type/weave? Does it really matter?

    2) Since I do not have a round Dutch oven, I’ll use my oval Creuset with enameled inside coating. Won’t the dough stick firmly to the bottom, possibly damaging its inside surface.

    1. Hey Yuri, I usually use cotton towels but probably any clean towel will work fine. Re: the pot, I also use an enameled Creuset pot. Works fine and comes out always with no sicking. The pan gets really hot so the dough sears immediately on contact. Give it a shot!

  14. Thanks again, Nick.

    Forgot to ask you one thing about the towel. Do you usually fold it in a particular way to make the dropping-the-dough-into-the-pot process easier? Any particular technique here?

    Sorry for so many follow-ups.

  15. Now that you wished me good luck, I realized that I should’ve checked with you one critical thing – the baking temperature. In this recipe you instruct to bake the loaf at

  16. Sorry, pressed “Post comment” too fast.

    What I wanted to say is that now that you wished me good luck, I realized that I should’ve checked with you one critical thing – the baking temperature. In this recipe you instruct to bake the loaf in the oven at 500°F. Did you mean the conventional bake mode or convection mode? I understand that if I do it in the convection mode the baking time should be cut. I have also tried to double-check this and found the following on “The Fresh Loaf” site:

    “… It is also possible to reduce the baking time by about 15-20%. So if you are running the oven in convection mode but are using a conventional recipe, reduce the time. A 40 minute baking time becomes about 32 (-20%) minutes. That way you don’t have to do mental gymnastics and guess temperatures.”

    Personally, I use the convection mode more often as it heats up faster and distributes heat around the cooked food more evenly. So which baking mode does your recipe call for?

    1. Yuri, the oven method shouldn’t really affect it because you are baking it in an enclosed pot. You are essentially making an oven inside an oven so convection or traditional heat won’t matter as the loaf isn’t coming into direct contact with the circulating air.

      I think you just need to pull the trigger and try a loaf… Good luck!

  17. Have to admit that I am just a bit intimidated about stepping up and actually doing it. But I will.

  18. I don’t have a Dutch oven, but I’ve had some baking success using a clay cooker pot (romertopf). Do you have any tips for me? I imagine as long as the pot holds heat, there shouldn’t be much to change, but I thought I’d ask. Thanks!

    1. Hey Dave, I think it would totally work although I’ve never actually tried it. You’re right though that holding the heat is the most important part. Also, I’m not sure what the temp limits are on the clay pot but if you can’t get it quite as hot as the recipe calls for, it should still be fine. Good luck!

  19. I love!!! No-Knead bread and cannot wait to try the olive version. My quick tip = I dump my dough out on a floured piece of parchment paper, let it rise there (covered by a bowl) , and place it in the dutch oven with the parchment paper underneath. Comes out perfectly and less contact with the hotness! Cheers!!

  20. I just made this bread and it is amazing!!! The best bread I have ever made or eaten. It looks just like the picture, was crunchy on the outside and nice and chewy inside. I can’t wait to try variations of this recipe. After removing the lid I only left it in for 10 min. more. I think it was probably done at 30 min. I’m sure all depends on your oven. The dutch oven is a must though. I put mine on top of my bread baking stone. I don’t know if that made any difference but I was just concerned the bottom of the bread might burn at 500 degrees.

  21. I was a bread virgin until yesterday, having never baked bread before. Ever. This was my first and it turned out ridiculously well. I substituted all whole wheat with no trouble. The only complaint heard was that the loaf seriously needed salt added to the dough. I guess my olives weren’t as salty as others, though they seemed to when I tasted them. My cooking vessel of choice was a Calphalon stock pot (no dutch oven). It baked at 525°F for 30 + 10 and had perfect results.

    Thanks for the fantastic first experience!

  22. After my 18 proof it was almost soupy, so beware of flour measures. I made into baguettes baked on sedated baguette pan and that didn’t give me the great air pockets. Ended up a bit too dense. But becuz of the long proof the flavor was still very good.

  23. I have a question…can this dough be made and frozen for another time?
    If so how would I do that please ? My uncle took me to an Italian bakery in the North End of Boston and introduced me to this olive bread and it was amazing!! I really want to make some for my family on Thanksgiving !!

    1. Hi Rose, To be honest, I’ve never tried to freeze the dough but MOST doughs will freeze okay so it’s probably worth a shot. You can also freeze the loaf after you bake it for longer storage. It loses a bit of its texture after thawing but is still pretty great, especially if you toast it. Good luck!

    1. I use a Tremontina 5.5 qt. I got at Sam’s for $39. It’s a champ for a lot less than some of the higher priced brands. I’ve also used a cast aluminum one that’s oval shaped and it works just fine, too.

  24. Thank-you! I have a 6 quart enameled Dutch oven and wanted to make sure it wasn’t too big. Very excited to try this recipe :-)

  25. We have been mourning the fact that we can’t get olive bread near where we live in Wisconsin. We lived at one time in Berkeley, CA and then in Paris for a while. In both places the olive bread and just breads in general are to die for. I saw your blog and decided to try this recipe. It turned out AMAZING on the first try. My son said he thought I could easily sell it and my niece from France said it was better than anything in Paris! That’s a bold statement and high praise – so thank you for the fabulous recipe.

    MP

  26. Excited to try this but was just wondering if I can leave the dough out longer than 18 hours? Forgot to calculated the time needed after the 18 hours as I need to be at work then.

    1. Hey Jenny, absolutely. I’ve done it with up to 24 hours of sit time without issue. Haven’t gone longer than that though… Good luck!

      1. I did put it in the fridge after about 10 hours and before i baked it, left it out at room temperature for a a couple of hours before I dumped it out onto parchment. It turned out great.

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