Confident home cooking
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
Print Recipe

Olive Bread

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.