Inspired by a bread from Hamelman (Olive Levain), which I’ve made a few times in the past, I improvised on the basic sourdough method from Emmanuel Hadjiandreou and his “How to Make Bread“, that I recently blogged about.  You want this bread to deliver real big olive flavor, so keep the olives in large pieces, you can even leave some whole (but pitted, of course! 😉

(adapted from Emmanuel Hadjiandreou)

400 g (3 + 1/2 cups) bread flour
10 g (2 tsp) salt
200 g (3/4 cup) warm water
300 g (1 + 1/2 cups) sourdough starter (100% hydration)
4-5 ounces black olives (preferably Kalamata, pitted and chopped in large pieces – roughly 1 cup, loosely packed)

Add into one bowl the flour and the salt.   This is your dry mixture.

In another, larger bowl, mix the  water and the sourdough starter. This is  your wet mixture.

Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix until it all comes together. Cover with a plastic wrap and let it stand for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, add the pieces of olives and knead the dough in the bowl, by pulling one portion of the dough from the side and pressing it down in the middle.  Repeat it turning the bowl slightly at each kneading, doing this kneading motion about 8 times and covering the full circumference of the ball of dough. The whole process should take about 20 seconds.   Cover the dough again and leave it resting for 10 minutes.

Repeat this kneading cycle three more times, 10 minutes apart.  Cover the bowl and let it rest for one hour.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface, and shape it  as a round ball,  coat the surface lightly with cornmeal or rice flour, and place it in a suitable container for the final rise.  Let the dough rise until doubled in size, which should take from 3 to 6 hours, depending on how active your starter was.

Heat the oven to 475 F, and have your method to generate steam ready.   Slide the bread on a parchment paper or a wooden peel, slash it, and place it in the oven.  I like to bake it over tiles, and place an inverted roasting pan moist with hot water over it for about 30 minutes, then remove it.   Once the bread is in the oven, reduce the temperature to 425 F.  Bake for a total of 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature is over 200F.

Let the bread cool completely before slicing.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  I confessed before that I am a kalamata-cheerleader,  so this bread is obviously a favorite of mine.  I already have a spicy kalamata sourdough in the blog,  but in this version I took a minimalist approach and used only olives, nothing else.

Don’t worry if when you start kneading the dough, the pieces of olive insist on poking out, just let them be.   In the end, they will find their perfect spot in the crumb.   Try not to squish the pieces too much as you fold or knead the dough.

I used cornmeal to coat the surface of the bread during proofing, because I ran out of rice flour, but in the end it turned out pretty good, the cornmeal gave the bread an interesting golden hue, and did a good job releasing the proofed bread from the banetton.

I am sending this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting, make sure you stop by to get inspired by all the baking going on this past week…   😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Buttermilk Cluster

TWO YEARS AGO: Farfalle, Farfalle

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  1. Another gorgeous ones, Sally! I love the way the slashes opened up and the olive-studded crumb looks so yummy I wish I could reach for a slice right off my screen… I too love Kalamatas but have you tried making a bread with Moroccan-style oil-cured olives? The flavor is to die for. Trader Joe’s used to carry jars of these olives and I always had them at hand for pizza-topping or for bread-baking. They stopped carrying them a couple of years ago. I don’t know why… I still miss them.


    • Haven’t made with these specific olives you mentioned – I used green olives (Lepard’s white thyme) and loved the way they tasted, but I bet these Moroccan-style would be superb!


  2. Great looking loaf Sally. I’ve just bought the Bourke St Bakery book. I don’t have the energy to try any recipes yet. I might try and convert for the Thermomix so I don’t have to knead.

    Not sure why you had a problem commenting.


    • Barbara, it was probably due to my iPad – not sure why it does that, but I’ve had problems commenting from it. Very annoying, because it allows me to write the full comment, and then messes up. I lose everything and have to start all over. Of course, on the third try I smart up and do a cut and paste, but still…. it never worked until I decided to do it from the computer


  3. Love the idea of real big olive flavour – so I’d be keeping those pieces supersized for sure ;-). What a gorgeous textured bread Sally!


    • Some of the flavor of the olives of course goes through the whole crumb, and the olives do change the texture of the bread, a softer crumb, moist… delicious


    • Kristy, let’s see how I’m doing in a month or so… maybe you won’t think of my as such a hero! 😉 Right now I am in the “breathe in… breathe out… one day at a time”


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    • hello therE! nice to “meet” you too!

      breads are finnicky creatures, I made a loaf a few weeks ago that was very flat. No obvious explanation, but at least it tasted good enough to wolf it down… 😉


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  12. This will be my next loaf. Starting the levain build tonight. Seems like a lot of starter, 75%, but I’ll keep the ratio the same for now. I’ll be adding in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of oregano which I think will compliment this loaf.


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