Olive bread is a favorite here in Greece. After all, we have the best olives in the world! (Or so they tell me – to be perfectly honest, I don’t think I’ve ever tried non-Greek olives!)
This bread uses two kinds of flour: bread flour and hand-milled whole wheat flour. You can of course use regular storebought whole wheat flour. I also use all purpose flour for dusting my kneading surface and cornmeal for dusting my baking sheet.
It’s a pretty small recipe, using only 400g flour. You can absolutely double the recipe. Just remember to double the olives too!
First, grind your wheat to make flour. I ground 200g of wheat in only six minutes – I’m getting faster!
Get out your bread flour.
See those bay leaves peeking out? They protect stored flour from bugs. I recommend you try it!
Proof your yeast to make sure it works. Sprinkle yeast and sugar over hot water in a big bowl and wait for it to foam. When it foams, move on to the next step. If it doesn’t foam, throw away the water and yeast and start over with fresh yeast. I like to give it about ten minutes to foam.
During the time when the yeast is proofing, prepare the olives.
I used Kalamata olives from here in Greece, but any black olive will work. The pre-sliced canned kind are not worth your trouble: stick with whole olives.
Always rinse olives. They’re coated in brine.
Make a cut around the olive through it’s widest part.
Remove the pits.
Slice the halves in half again to make quarters. Have we foamed?
Stir in half of each kind of flour into your water and yeast mixture.
When it’s well combined, add the salt and the olive pieces.
Stir well to combine.
Add the rest of the flour. Stir it all in well.
Turn out your dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 8 minutes. If you need a refresher on kneading, I have a tutorial here.
Put it in an oiled bowl (I use the same bowl that I mixed the dough in, without washing it), and oil the top of the dough as well. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise for 90 minutes at room temperature. In a hot place it can rise for less time. You want it to double in volume.
When 90 minutes have passed, put your dough on a baking sheet or a piece of wax paper.
Gently press the air out with your fingers, and divide the dough into as many loaves or rolls as you’d like. I like to do three with this recipe.
Form the loaves.
Dust a baking sheet liberally with cornmeal and place the loaves on the baking sheet. Let them sit uncovered for 45 minutes. Preheat your oven (air if a convection oven) to 250 degrees Celsius, with an ovensafe bowl of water on the floor of the oven. (The water bowl is optional – it will give you a crispier crust.)
After 45 minutes, brush the loaves with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. I did one with white sesame, one with black sesame, and one with both.
At this point, they’re ready to go in the oven. Aren’t they sweet?
And after a few minutes in the oven:
Handmilled Whole Wheat Olive Bread
200g whole wheat, milled to a fine flour
200g bread flour
250mL hot water (+/- depending on your flour!)
all purpose flour for dusting
cornmeal for dusting
12-15 black olives
2 tsp yeast
1 tsp granulated sugar
1.5 tsp table salt
1 tsp olive oil for oiling bowl
2 tsp white sesame seeds
2 tsp black sesame seeds
1. Proof yeast: put hot water in a mixing bowl, sprinkle with yeast and sugar. Let sit 10 minutes til foamy. If it doesn’t foam, throw it all out and start over with fresh yeast.
2. Pit and quarter the olives.
3. Stir half the whole wheat flour and half the bread flour into the yeast mixture. When fully combined, add the salt and olive pieces; stir to combine. Add the remaining whole wheat and bread flours, combine well.
4. Dust your surface and hands with all purpose flour. Turn out dough and knead 8 minutes until smooth and elastic. Oil mixing bowl. Place dough in bowl and oil top of dough. Cover with plastic wrap and kitchen towel and let rise 90 minutes at room temperature.
5. Turn dough onto surface. Press air out with fingers. Cut into three equal pieces. Form loaves. Dust baking sheet with cornmeal. Place loaves on baking sheet. Allow to rise uncovered 45 minutes.
6. Preheat oven (convection if available). [Optional: place an ovensafe bowl full of water on the floor of the oven when you turn it on.]
7. When 45 minutes have elapsed, beat the egg and brush over loaves. Sprinkle sesame seeds.
8. Bake for 5 minutes at 250 C. Remove baking sheet; move loaves on the sheet so they don’t stick. Replace baking sheet in oven. Lower heat to 220 C. Bake another 15 minutes or until golden and hollow-sounding when tapped on the bottom.
9. Cool on rack for one hour before serving.