Olive Herb Bread
These past few weeks have been very busy and filled with a lot of bagel making and eating. Bagels are a wonderful form of bread, but I finally decided I needed to move on to another recipe.
Olive herb bread is one I was very skeptical of when it first crossed my path. Olives have never been an appealing food to me. I think it’s mostly the texture. Lucky for me, when chopped finely and put in bread, olives taste much better to my taste buds.
As I mentioned, I am not a big fan of olives, so they are not often in my cabinet. If you do not have olives around, or you completely detest them, they can be left out of the recipe. The herbs and onions pack a punch of flavor on their own.
The first thing I do whenever I am baking bread is turn on the oven. The ideal temperature for this recipe is 375º F/ 190º C. Often the oven is preheated to a higher temperature than required in my kitchen during dough preparation, but it’s summer so it only rises to the temperature needed to conserve the energy it takes to cool things down after baking is done.
The next thing I do is chop my onions and heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan. The onions should be cooked until a dark brown to blackened color. This can take a bit of time, so I chop my olives and mix the dry ingredients while the onions cook. Be sure to check the onions and stir to avoid burning. Warning: You may smell a bit like stew after cooking the onions. 🙂
Crumble the yeast into the flour until well mixed. This helps buffer interaction between the yeast and salt. Once yeast is well incorporated with the flour, add the salt, parsley, oregano, Italian herbs, thyme, and black pepper. Thyme is a recent addition to this recipe, which happened almost by accident. I was running low on oregano, and had extra thyme from another recipe. This is one of the things I love most about cooking and baking. Both are very versatile to taste and imagination.
Add olives and browned/blackened onions to dry ingredients. Distribute ingredients evenly and add room temperature water. The dough will be moist and a bit sticky.
Turn dough out onto work surface and work dough using preferred kneading method until smooth and elastic. The dough is ready when the it does not rip/separate when lightly pulled. Allow to rest, covered in a bowl for about one hour or until doubled in size.
Shape dough into preferred form. I experimented with two batches. One batch contained Greek olives and the other black olives. The Greek olive loaf was shaped by dividing the dough into three equal pieces, rolling each piece out, and braiding the pieces together. From there the braid was curved and placed in a greased, springform pan.
With the black olive dough I made multiple rolls, weighing about 3 ounces each. The knots were made by rolling each piece of dough out to about 8 inches, tying in a simple knot, and placing on a line baking sheet. The others were separated into three equal portions. Each portion was rolled into a ball and placed in a pan with individual squares (similar to a muffin tin).
Allow the shaped dough to rest for an additional 30 to 45 minutes, or until doubled in size. Before placing in oven, brush egg wash on dough for added shine. Bake loaves for about 40 to 45 minutes, and rolls for 20 to 25 minutes. The bread is done when tapping on the bottom produces a hollow sound.
Olive Herb Bread
A fantastically aromatic bread, great as an appetizer or side.
1.5 lb (688gm) flour
1 teaspoon dry yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
1 Tablespoon dried Italian herbs
1 Tablespoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
5 ounces onions (blackened)
2.5 ounces olives
12 fluid ounces water
- Preheat oven to 375º F/190º C
- Blacken onions in approximately 1 tablespoon olive oil.
- While onions blacken, crumble yeast into flour incorporating well. Add salt, parsley, oregano, Italian herbs, thyme, and black pepper.
- Once onions have reached desired color, add with olives to the dry ingredients until everything is well distributed. Add room temperature water until dough is moist throughout.
- Turn dough out onto work surface and work with preferred kneading method until smooth and elastic. Allow dough to rest in covered bowl for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Shape dough into desired shape and allow to rest for an additional 30 to 45 minutes.
- Brush dough with egg wash: beaten egg, splash of water, pinch of salt. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes for loaves, and 20 to 25 minutes for rolls. Bread is ready when tapping on the bottom produces a hollow sound.
- Allow to cool completely on cooling rack if storing in air tight container or freezing.