It's fall and time to get serious about baking again. The wood burning oven makes me think of bread. I'm sure it will allow us to make some interesting new loaves this year. In the meantime we happened across some great olives the other day and felt the need to fold them into dough. This recipe makes a rich, crusty loaf of bread. It gets a lot of its flavor from the olives you use so make sure that they are ones you enjoy eating. We use 50% whole wheat flour because we like the contrast we get from its nutty flavor juxtaposed with the earthy quality of the olives. We preserve the gluten structure by using a percentage of all purpose flour. When Amaya's at school we've been known to make a meal of this bread, accompanied by a simple salad and maybe a little cheese. Nothing more is needed.
Makes 1 loaf
225 grams/ 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
210 grams/ 1 ½ cups white or whole wheat flour
7.5 grams/ 1 ¼ teaspoons fine sea salt
3 grams/1 teaspoon sugar
3.5 grams / 1 teaspoons active dry yeast
30 grams/ 2 tablespoons olive oil
30 grams/ 2 tablespoons olive brine (from the container of olives)
200 grams/ 7 ounces water
100 grams/ 3/4 cup coarsely chopped olives (your favorite kind)
10 grams/ 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
Put the all purpose flour, wheat flour, salt, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle and turn it on low. Let it run for about 10 seconds to blend the mixture. Put the olive oil, olive brine and water in a pint-sized measuring cup and stir to blend. Slowly pour it into the bowl of the still running mixture. Once the water is about halfway absorbed, about a minute, add the olives. Let the mixer go for an additional minute or two until the mixture comes together as slightly sticky dough. Turn the mixer up to medium low and knead the dough for 3-4 minutes until it becomes smooth, elastic dough. Put 1 teaspoon olive oil in a medium bowl and rub it all over the inside surface. Turn the olive bread dough out onto the counter and knead it a few times by hand. Transfer it to the prepared bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and leave it to rise at room temperature until it has almost doubled, 1 ½ -2 hours depending on the temperature of your room.
Uncover the bowl and use a rubber bench scraper to gently loosen the dough from the bowl. Slide a bench scraper to loosen the dough from the sides of the bowl. Slide it under one edge and fold it downwards into the center and press down gently so the dough adheres to itself. Give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat the folding process. Do this two more times. After the fourth fold, flip over the dough so the seams are on the bottom. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. It can be refrigerated at this point for up to 12 hours or you can leave it at room temperature for about an hour to rise again. A slower fermentation will give the yeast time to develop more flavor and the cold dough will be easier to shape into a loaf although it will require a longer proofing time before baking.
Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Sprinkle it lightly with flour or fine cornmeal.
Turn the dough out onto the center of the prepared sheet pan and shape it into a round, slightly flattened loaf. Do not move loaf around on the pan or the cornmeal will migrate up the sides of the loaf. Once your loaf is formed drizzle 5 grams (1 teaspoon) olive oil over the top and rub it over the dough so there is a thin coating of oil over all the exposed areas of dough. This will keep it from drying out as it proofs. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave the loaf to proof at room temperature for 30 minutes (up to 75 minutes if you started with chilled dough) until it has risen and looks puffy.
Preheat the oven to 450°F/242°C
Put the sheet pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Without opening the oven, lower the heat to 375°F/190°C and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes until the bread is a deep caramelized color. Remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Variation: You could also make this into a version of focaccia-style bread by rubbing a sheet pan with olive oil and sprinkling the inside with semolina. Press the dough out into an even layer, edge to edge in the prepared pan and drizzle it with 15 grams (1 tablespoon) of olive oil, use your fingers to make sure that the entire surface of the bread is lightly coated with the oil and leave it to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes. Dimple the top of the bread with your fingers and sprinkle the top with coarse sea salt. Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 30 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven, rotating the pan after 20 minutes. It will be a deep golden brown. Let the bread rest in the pan for 5-10 minutes and then use an offset spatula to loosen the bread and slide it out onto a cutting board. You can cut it immediately with a sharp serrated knife and serve it while still warm.