You would think that I’m done talking about gifts. Sorry, there is one more, a super special gift received from Celia, the bread baking Goddess Extraordinaire from Australia, hostess of the equally extraordinaire food blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.  She found out that it was my birthday last month (full disclosure: I told her), and sent me a bread cookbook: Josey Baker Bread.   I was traveling at the time, but could not wait to get my hands on some flour, salt, and yeast to put my gift to use.  Of course, my first thought was sourdough, but we’ve been so busy lately, that every Wednesday would come and go, and I never remembered to revive my starter, hibernating in a – 20°C freezer.  Finally, I could not wait any longer, and tried one of the simpler recipes using commercial yeast.  This is by far one of the easiest breads you can make. All it takes is preparing a pre-ferment with whole-wheat flour, allowing that to sit at room temperature overnight, then proceed with a no-knead formula next day.


OVERVIEW OF THE RECIPE: to make this bread, you will start by mixing whole wheat flour with water and a little commercial yeast.  That mixture will bubble away overnight, and will be part of the final dough, which contains only white flour, a little salt, lemon zest, fresh rosemary, and of course black olives.  I actually omitted the rosemary because I did not have any at home then.  I increased the amount of lemon zest, but other than that the recipe was followed to a T.

It is essentially a no-knead bread, with a very flexible schedule as far as preparing the dough and baking it. This is one of the things I loved the most about his cookbook: Josey offers a timetable for all his recipes, so that you can adjust making bread to your own schedule, no matter how busy you are. If you rather stay up late to bake, follow one particular timing. If you prefer to bake first thing in the morning, follow another one. Baking in the end of the afternoon? At lunch time? It’s all doable. Part of the beauty of working with yeast. If you are new to bread baking, this book will be perfect for you, because it totally demystifies the process. Reading the book is the closest thing to having a class on bread baking given by a pro who behaves more like a friend, not a snotty professor. Yeap, that is what Josey Baker’s book is all about.

If you want the full recipe, it is available online, reprinted with permission from Josey on this site.


For a no-knead bread, the crumb has quite a nice structure, and the taste is wonderful!  The lemon zest was very prominent, and I think rosemary would make this bread perfect. But I would never substitute dried rosemary because I dislike its texture. In fact, one of the spices I rarely use in dried form is rosemary for that very reason.  Unless it is part of mixes such as Herbes de Provence, but in that case it is pretty much pulverized and the drawback of harsh texture is eliminated. Still, get your hands on some fresh rosemary, grab your bag of flour and make this bread. The smell while it bakes is out of this world delicious! And refrain from grabbing one of those olives that will be peeking on the surface of the loaf.  It is bad bread etiquette, and resisting that temptation builds character. HA!

Celia, thanks so much for the thoughtful gift! Special friends make getting one year older “almost’ painless…

ONE YEAR AGO: Almonds, a Cookbook Review

TWO YEARS AGO: Pumpkin Shrimp Curry

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, April 2012


FIVE YEARS AGO: Banana Bread



I’ve never had a bialy until today.  But, ever since I first saw a picture of a bialy  in cookbooks and all over the net I wanted to try one, or even better, to make one!

Many weekends I was ready to give it a go, but things came up and… bialy was postponed until next week.   And the next… and the next…and the next.  Then I saw Dan Lepard’s recipe for black olive bialy and I couldn’t wait any more.   Black olive bialy.    Three simple words that made my heart jump with joy.  I’m a Kalamata-cheerleader…

(from Dan Lepard)

1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
150 g pitted Kalamata olives, diced
25 mL olive oil
1 tsp salt
550 g bread flour
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 Tbs poppy seeds

Pour 250 mL warm water and yeast in a bowl then add the minced olives, olive oil and salt. Add the flour, mix forming a firm dough, and refrigerate for 24 hours or more (up to three days).

Dry fry the onion a few minutes on a non-stick skillet until soft but still pale, scrape into a bowl with the poppy seeds, and leave in the fridge.

Heat the oven to 450F.

Divide the dough into ten pieces (use a scale to get equal pieces) and shape into balls. Leave covered for an hour to rise at room temperature. Pat the balls out to about 4 inches diameter, and firmly indent the middle area, leaving a very thin and wide skin of dough in the center. Cover a tray with parchment paper, and lay five bialys on it, well spaced. Press 1 tsp of onion/poppy seed mixture in the center, with wet fingers.

Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until puffed and just beginning to get dark, then repeat with the remaining five pieces.


Comments: If this recipe didn’t have Dan Lepard behind it, I probably wouldn’t have tried it, because it’s essentially a no-knead bread.  Quoting Seinfeld, “not that there’s anything wrong with that,”  but I prefer recipes that involve kneading and/or folding the dough.   This was one of the easiest breads I’ve ever made, that’s perfect for a dinner party or brunch:  once the dough is in the fridge it takes just a little over 1 hour to enjoy the fruits of your labor (i.e., the bread!).

Two important remarks:
1. Use Kalamata olives  or another good quality black olive that’s high in moisture.  Avoid the black olives sold in tins, that are brine-free and have almost no olive flavor.

2.  Don’t be shy when pressing your fingers into the dough to make the depressions.  Try to leave a very thin skin in the center. My second batch was better than the first, because I was too delicate in shaping the first five.

The flavor of the olives as you bite into the soft bread, mixed with the onion filling, is just dreamy!  I’ll revisit this bread again and again.

I am submitting this post to this week’s Yeastspotting….

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