I cannot think of a better way to re-open the Bewitching Kitchen than a loaf of sourdough bread!  My sourdough starter was refreshed the day before we left L.A., and a small amount came with us in the car.  One more refreshment once we arrived, and I was back in business. Instead of using a recipe from a book, I adapted a basic formula, adding three ingredients that remind me of our times in L.A.

1. Kalamata olives, because we went through countless bottles of the very affordable and delicious  Trader Joe’s pitted Kalamatas.  We brought a bottle with us, it will be a sad day when it’s finished now that we don’t have a Trader Joe’s 3 miles from home.

2. Red pepper flakes, because quite a few of our friends in L.A. were heavy into hot and spicy food (and drinks!).  The more we hang out with them, the more we got into pepper ourselves.

3. Fresh rosemary,   because it grew wild around our neighborhood.  In fact, on our second week in L.A., I was staring at a huge plant near our house, when the owner of the home came out and said hello.  I asked, in disbelief – “Is this rosemary”?  – she smiled, and told me to get some whenever I wanted, as evidently the plant was threatening to overtake her property!  😉

So, here is my take on a sourdough to bring a little of L.A. into our kitchen.

(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

200g (ml) water at room temperature
142g  sourdough starter (at 100% hydration)
1/4 tsp instant yeast
280g bread flour
85g dark rye flour
9 g salt
3/4 cup kalamata olives (cut in half)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbs fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

Dissolve the starter and the instant yeast in the water in a large bowl.  Add the flour, mix to incorporate (or use a Kitchen Aid type mixer for a couple of minutes on low speed), then cover with a plastic wrap and allow it to sit for 20 minutes undisturbed.

Sprinkle the salt on top, and mix by gentle kneading or with the mixer for a few more minutes.  Once the salt is incorporated, add the olives, red pepper, and rosemary, and knead by hand or with the mixer (again in low speed).

Let the dough rise for 3 hours, with quick kneading cycles at 40 min, 1h 20 min, and 2 hours (timing is pretty flexible, no need to pay too close attention to it).  Shape the dough into a round, place in a banetton or other appropriate container with the seam up.  Let it rise for 3 hours, until almost doubled in size, and with an airy feeling as you gently press the surface of the dough.

Bake in a 450F oven,  covered for the first 30 minutes, then uncover and lower the temperature to 425F for the remaining time.  If you have a favorite method to create steam, use it in the initial baking. I prefer to use a roasting pan previously filled with water, emptied of the water and quickly inverted on top of the loaf as my steam source.

Let the bread completely cool on a rack before slicing.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  Wild yeast purists, forgive me, because I cheated.  Yes, I admit, I added commercial yeast to this bread.  It turns out that I baked it the day after arriving home, and my schedule for that day was a bit iffy.  I wanted to make sure the bread would be ready to bake before too late.  Also, I was hoping for a crumb  a little more tight, to use the bread for sandwiches, so I proofed a little less and reduced the number of kneading cycles.

The bread has intense olive flavor, and a nice hint of heat every now and then.   The rosemary flavor was not as strong as I had hoped for,  so next time I’ll increase that amount.   A delicious bread, fantastic as an open face sandwich with a slice of ham, cheese, tomato slices, and a run under the broiler.

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting event…

and you can also see it on Tastespotting

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  1. Gorgeous photos, I have a vision of you leaping out of your car after that long, long drive and feeding the sourdough – I do hope you let the dogs out first.

    What better way to celebrate a home coming! All those pent up breads waiting to be baked. That bread looks just fabulous. 😀 How deep is your roasting tin? I think sometimes about putting a hat over the breads. I wonder what will come out of the Bewitching Kitchen next?


  2. I was also betting that bread would be your first post after coming home, but never imagined you would pull one so fast! I guess it’s because for you bread baking comes naturally, whereas I just cannot seem to do it right.

    gorgeous loaf, I would have a hard time not pulling that olive sticking out of the bread! LOL


    • I admit I pushed the envelope a little making this bread right away, but I’m glad I did, nothing beats the smell of freshly baked bread in the house, it immediately made us feel comfy and happy


  3. ooh, love the pepper flakes here! I’m a big fan of spice and come from a long line of olive lovers… The bread looks like a wonderful success – great photos – welcome home 🙂


    • Thanks! Olive bread is one of our favorites, and I like to leave the olives in large pieces, when you mince them the taste gets too dispersed in the loaf, whereas with large chunks you get this blast of oliveness…Perfect!


  4. What a fabulous way to come home, Sally!! Olive loaves are a favourite at our place, particularly with our youngest son – he would adore this! I’ve been adding a little yeast to the odd loaf lately as well – winter is playing havoc with some of my baking schedules…


    • Good to know I’m not the only one adding a little yeast every once in a while. I notice a subtle difference in the crumb when I add commercial yeast, it is less “creamy” (for lack of a better word). Not sure why, or if it’s really the case, I would have to do a real experiment with side by side loaves. Maybe I’ll do that once the hot weather is over


  5. That bread looks so good, such lovely flavours!

    Well done on being two years down the blog road and I look forward to exploring so many more of your exciting recipes. Thank you so much! Am signing up for more!


    • 🙂
      It was Dan… poor Arthur stayed frozen in Oklahoma, and believe it or not, I haven’t brought him back to life yet…. Next week I’ll take care of poor Arthur, I’m sure he will be a little jealous of all the attention devoted to his older brother.


    • Welcome to the Bewitching, Karen! There’s quite a bit of bread here, so I hope you and your husband find enough inspiration for baking….

      it’s my favorite activity in the kitchen, I wish I had more time to do it, but unfortunately it is mainly a weekend thing – I need a day with a few more hours! 😉


  6. This looks great! It’s been years since I baked bread but this might inspire…

    Zingerman’s makes an amazing olive-sourdough bread, but we seldom buy it at $9 per loaf! Of course, we save $ on butter because it’s so delicious that you can eat it plain.


  7. I think you’re right…feta would definitely make the perfect addition next time ’round…and there WILL be a next time, I absolutely adored this bread. Thank you for the recipe and the inspiration xo 🙂 ~Heather


  8. Pingback: Paine cu masline Kalamata, coaja de lamaie si herbes de Provence | Apa. Faina. Sare.

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