Monday 6 December 2021

Olive Bread

When things get hectic, good bread is a fine thing to have on hand.  You can serve it as toast alongside a bowl of soup or some scrambled eggs, you can throw together a quick and tasty sandwich, or you can assemble the makings of a savoury bread pudding and pop it in the fridge, ready to go into the oven when you get home from work, or in the morning if you have guests for breakfast or brunch. Olive bread works well for all these things.

I usually bake this bread in a rectangular loaf pan because if I'm using it to make sandwiches that shape ensures that all the slices will be similar in size and shape.  Sometimes, though, I divide the dough into three or four portions and use it to make pizza crust, or I'll form it into a round if I want to make muffaletta or some other stuffed loaf. The baking times will, of course, vary depending upon the size and shape of the bread.

To make this bread you'll need:

  • 2 cups warm water, slightly above body temperature but not exceedin 110F
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 4-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 6 -1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Greek Seasoning (I use this recipe, shared on AllRecipes by Margaret Havenar)
  • 2 Tablespoons of finely diced sun-dried tomatoes 
  • 1 cup sliced green olives
  • 1 cup sliced black olives

Stir the sugar into the warm water until dissolved. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let it rest until the yeast has dissolved and started to foam up a bit.  (This usually takes about 10 minutes in my kitchen.)

Add the olive oil and 3 cups of flour, mixing them until combined.

Add in the salt, Greek seasoning, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and the remaining 3-1/2 cups of flour. Continuing mixing until a firm dough forms. 

If you're mixing it in your stand mixer, using a dough hook, set the mixer on low speed and continue mixing for 5 to 10 minutes, until the dough is elastic and springs back when you poke it lightly with your finger.

If you're mixing it by hand, knead it in the bowl so you don't have to add extra flour, working it for about 10 minutes until the dough is elastic and springs back when you poke it lightly with your finger.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board or onto a sheet of waxed paper or parchment. Wash and dry the mixing bowl, then lightly oil the inside of the bowl.  Return the dough to the bowl, turning it so it's lightly oiled all over, then cover the dough with a sheet of waxed paper or a slightly damp cloth.

Let the dough stand until doubled in size.  (My home tends to be a bit chilly at this time of year - around 65F most days - so the dough can take up to 2 hours for the dough to rise. If your space is warmer the dough will double in size more quickly.) While the dough is rising, butter or oil two loaf pans.

When the dough has doubled in size, punch the dough down, knead it a few times, then divide it in half and form each half into a loaf.  Place the formed loaves into the prepared pans and let them rise again until doubled in size. 

When the loaves have risen brush the tops with olive oil. Bake them on the middle rack of a 375F oven for about 45 minutes, rotating them at the 25 minute point.

When the bread is done it'll be golden brown in colour.  If, when you turn a loaf out of the pan and tap on the bottom crust, it sounds hollow you'll know it's cooked through.  If it doesn't have that hollow sound put it back in the pan and return it to the oven. Turn the oven off and allow the bread to bake a bit longer in the residual heat.

Turn the baked loaves out onto wire racks to cool.  Leave them for at least 30 minutes before slicing the bread.

Seriously, you need to make this.  It's SO good!


Judy Boorman said...

I have had this bread many times and I think it tastes better each time.

Aunt B said...

@Judy Boorman, I agree! It's one of my faves for just that reason.