Thursday, October 17, 2013

Kalamata Olive Sourdough Bread

I think I’ll always assume that part of bread baking is magic. I can choose different flours for different textures, adjust the timing according to the temperature, make big loaves or small rolls, but I’m never completely sure what the result will be until it comes out of the oven. Hence, it’s magic. This is also why I love reading books about bread baking and learning more about every detail of the process. Every baker who has written about bread baking has unique insights or techniques to offer. And, when the baker in question happens to be a Master Baker who trained at Les Compagnons du Devoir guild and has taught and consulted on bread baking around the world while operating his own bakery, I know there will be plenty to learn. I received a review copy of A Passion for Bread by Lionel Vatinet in which he describes the importance of bread throughout his upbringing in France and how he was inspired to master the craft of bread baking. After doing so, it became his goal to teach what he’s learned to as many professional and home bakers as he can. The book walks you through the processes of mixing, kneading, and shaping with helpful step-by-step photos along the way. There are yeast-raised breads including plain Baguettes and several varieties of stuffed Baguettes, Focaccia with all sorts of toppings, and Ciabatta as a loaf or rolls. Up next are Sourdough Breads which I’m partial to because of the complete simplicity of ingredients and homemade-ness of them. Last, there’s a chapter for other uses for all of these breads like recipes for soups to be topped with croutons, sandwiches with different breads, and stuffing. My first stop was in the Sourdough chapter for the Kalamata Olive Bread. 

As usual in preparing to bake bread, the first step was to feed my starter and get it ready to do its thing. The dough here was a mix of whole-wheat flour, bread flour, water, liquid levain or starter, and salt. Vatinet points out that by adding the water to a bowl first and then adding the levain, you won’t risk the levain partially sticking to the bottom of the bowl. The olives were chopped in half or quartered, drained, and then patted dry before being tossed with some flour. After mixing the primary ingredients, the floured olives were added and mixed into the dough. This recipe makes a sticky dough, and Vatinet provides good guidance for working with it. He assures you that after folding the dough at intervals during the first fermentation, it will have developed some body and lost some of the stickiness. I actually doubled the recipe to make two loaves. So, after the first fermentation, I divided the dough in half. In my case, two loaves were shaped, and I refrigerated them overnight for a slow final fermentation before baking. The issue of adding steam to the oven while the bread bakes is something every baker seems to address in a different way. A technique that has become popular is to place a shaped loaf in a pre-heated cast iron pot with a lid to allow the steam rising from the bread as it bakes to be captured inside the pot. With that method, you have the difficulty of gently placing a risen loaf in a very hot pot and then having to reach in to slash the surface of the loaf while not burning your hands on the pot. Vatinet offers a different approach to achieve the same effect. He suggests you place the loaf on a cornmeal-dusted peel, slash the top of the loaf, slide the loaf onto a baking stone in the oven, and then place a stainless steel mixing bowl over the loaf for the first ten minutes of baking. The bowl is easy to remove with oven mitts after it has done its job of capturing steam. It worked great, producing nice, crusty loaves. 

An idea mentioned in the recipe headnote is what convinced me to try this bread, and that was to use the olive bread for a tuna Nicoise sandwich. I ended up doing a tuna-less twist on that by toasting pieces of the bread, topping them a white bean spread, setting an anchovy fillet on each pieces, and drizzling with olive oil. It was a delicious combination of flavors from bottom to top. The more I learn and the more I bake, there are fewer mysteries to the process. But, I think there’s still a bit of magic involved.

Kalamata Olive Bread 
Recipe reprinted with publisher’s permission from A Passion for Bread: Lessons from a Master Baker. Copyright © 2013 Lionel Vatinet. Little, Brown and Company. 

Makes 1 boule 

One of the stops on my Guild Tour de France was Nimes, where a fougasse (a French take on focaccia) with olives is the bread of choice. When I began baking in the United States, I added olives to my sourdough bread. It was instantly popular, which did not make me happy because the only olives available still had their pits. I spent more time pitting olives than making bread—not a fun job! Thankfully, pitted kalamata olives are now readily available in the United States. Try this bread to make a tuna Nicoise sandwich—a very French lunch. 

3.23 ounces/92 grams/about 3⁄4 cup pitted kalamata olives, well drained and patted dry 
2.28 ounces/65 grams/1⁄2 cup unbromated whole-wheat bread flour, plus .35 ounce/10 grams (2 teaspoons) for the olives 
11.03 ounces/315 grams/21⁄2 cups unbleached, unbromated white bread flour 
0.21 ounce/6 grams/1 teaspoon fine sea salt 
9.5 ounces/270 grams/1 cup plus 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon water 
3.5 ounces/100 grams/1⁄2 cup liquid levain  
Cornmeal for dusting 

Scale all of the ingredients. 

Using a chef’s knife, cut each olive into 6 pieces and place them in a small bowl. Add the .35 ounce/10 grams whole-wheat flour and stir to lightly coat each piece of olive, allowing the flour to absorb any remaining moisture. Set aside. Using an instant-read thermometer, take the temperature of the water. It should read between 65°F and 70°F. Record it in your Dough Log. 

Place the 11.03 ounces/315 grams whole-wheat flour, the white flour, and the salt in a medium mixing bowl, stirring to blend well. 

Pour half of the water into a mixing bowl, and then add the liquid levain, stirring to blend. 

Pour the levain-water mixture into the bowl of the electric stand mixer. Add the flour-salt mixture. Then, attach the dough hook to the mixer. Begin mixing on low speed (“1” on most mixers) and continue to mix until the dough becomes soft and moist, about 5 minutes, frequently stopping the mixer and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to make sure that all of the ingredients are incorporated into the dough. 

Taste the dough to see whether you have forgotten the salt. If so, add it now and mix for another minute. The dough should just be beginning to come together. 

Stop the mixer and move the dough hook out of the way. Using your bowl scraper, scrape down the sides to make sure that all of the ingredients are combined in the dough. 

Return the dough hook to its original position. Increase the speed to medium-low (“2” on most mixers) and mix until the dough is soft and smooth, with a moist, tacky surface, about 2 minutes. 

Add the floured olives, reduce the speed to low, and continue to mix until the olives are completely incorporated into the dough. 

Using an instant-read thermometer, take the temperature of the dough. It should be between 72°F and 80°F. If it is not, immediately make the necessary adjustments. Record the temperature of the dough and the time you finished this step in the Dough Log, and note the time the first fermentation should be completed. This dough will be in the first fermentation for 3 hours, with a fold each hour. 

Lightly dust a large glass or metal bowl with flour. Transfer the dough to the floured bowl, throw a light film of flour over the top to keep the plastic from sticking, tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and place in a warm (75°F to 80°F), draft-free place for 1 hour. 

Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour. 

Uncover the dough and place it on the floured work surface. If the dough is very sticky, lightly flour your hands, but do not add more flour to the dough. If the dough sticks to the table, use your bench scraper to lift it up; do not pull and stretch the dough. Let the dough rest for 30 seconds. Using cupped hands, pat the dough into a thick square. Lift the right corners and fold them into the center of the square, lightly patting the seam down. Lift the left corners and fold them into the center of the square, again lightly patting the seam down. Repeat this process with the top two corners and then the bottom two corners, meeting in the middle of the square and lightly patting down the seams. 

Lightly flour the bowl and return the dough to it, seam side down. Cover with plastic wrap and return to the warm (75°F to 80°F), draft-free place for another hour. 

Repeat the above process and again place the dough in a warm (75°F to 80°F), draft-free place to rise for a third and final hour. At this point the dough should have increased in body and be less sticky. 

Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour. 

Transfer the dough to the floured surface and, using a flat hand, lightly press the dough into a thick rectangle. Lift the dough to make sure that it is not sticking to the work surface. If it is sticking, use the dough scraper to lift it. If it continues to stick, again lightly dust the work surface with flour. Then, carefully shape the dough into a boule. 

Lightly dust a banneton with flour. Place the dough in the banneton, seam side up. Throw a light film of flour over the top to keep the plastic from sticking, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. 

Place the banneton in a warm (75°F to 80°F), draft-free place for 21/2 to 3 hours or, alternatively, proof for 1 hour and then place in the refrigerator for 12 to 16 hours. If the dough has been refrigerated, let it come to room temperature for 1 hour before baking. 

If you are using the stainless-steel bowl method to bake the bread, about 30 minutes before you are ready to bake, move one oven rack to the lowest rung and remove the other. 

Place a large baking stone on the rack and preheat the oven to 450°F. To determine whether the dough is ready to be baked, uncover and gently make a small indentation in the center of the dough with your fingertip. If the indentation slowly and evenly disappears, the bread is ready to bake. If not allow for additional fermentation. 

Lightly dust a bread peel with cornmeal and carefully transfer the loaf to it, top side up. 

Working quickly and using a lamé or single-edged razor blade, score the top of the loaf. Cut in quick, decisive slashes, marking into the dough by no more than 1/8 inch. 

Slide the loaf onto the center of the stone, taking care not to touch the hot surface. Quickly cover with the stainless-steel mixing bowl. Immediately close the oven door. Bake for 10 minutes; then, lift the edge of the bowl with the tip of a small knife and use oven mitts to carefully remove the hot bowl. Continue to bake until the bread is a deep golden brown, about 30 minutes more. (It is a good idea to check after the bread has been baking for about 20 minutes to make sure it is browning evenly. If not, rotate the bread.) If you are concerned about the bread’s doneness, insert an instant-read thermometer from the bottom of the bread into the center. If it reads 185°F to 210°F the bread is fully baked. 

Transfer the loaf to a cooling rack and let it cool for at least 1 hour before cutting with a serrated knife or wrapping for storage. 

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  1. Una gran receta de pan su textura dorada y crujiente se ve perfecta ,tomo nota ,abrazos.

  2. Exquisite! That is a great loaf of bread. Very flavorful, I'm sure.



  3. I agree with you about the magic.There's something really special about baking a loaf of bread. This loaf looks wonderful with the olive flavour and beautiful rustic shape.

  4. I love olive bread and how fantastic to be baking your own! Your loaf sure does look incredible and I'm sure it would be a joy to taste xx

  5. I love making bread. It's so soothing.

  6. I've eaten this bread, but bakery bought. And loved it. How wonderful to find such a fabulous recipe for it. You did a wonderful job with it Lisa. Baking bread is not something I do often now the family's gone, but this loaf will be worth it!

  7. Cannot tell you how anxious I am to bake bread, but it looks like I need to wait one more week, because our range won't be installed until Monday. It is soooo hard to wait!

    Of all sourdough recipes, I think the ones with olives are the best, so I hope to be baking a loaf like yours soon....

  8. After attending Kneading Conference West this summer I have been determined to use natural yeast, sourdough starter, for making bread. My starter is growing now. I can't wait to begin baking bread with a deeper flavor such as this lovely Kalamata Olive Sourdough!

  9. This takes me back - used to always go to the bakery with dad and his favorite was the olive sourdough. Beautifully done.

  10. What a beautiful bread! My partner is a huge fan of Kalamata olives, but I'm not. They look so yummy with raw cashew cheese.

  11. Bread Baking is truly Magic Lisa and you have mesmerized me with your tenacity and patience. I have avoided baking bread for way too long. Thank goodness there are creative souls such as yourself who are a true inspiration to the Art of Bread Baking. Heavenly!

    Thank you so much for sharing...

  12. Fantastic crumb and crust! Homemade bread certainly tastes the best.

  13. wow, i guess the creamy texture and taste of black olive will made the breat taste even better.....
    well done Lisa!

  14. You are right, we eat bread and focaccia often with black and kalamata olives in them here in france and I adore it! Your bread is beautiful and the perfect lunch bread.

  15. olives offend me for some reason. i wish i could figure out why. regardless, that loaf of bread looks terrific in texture!

  16. Good recipe, and the book sounds great. Lately we've been letting the bread do its second rise in a Dutch oven (which of course is cold), then put the cold pot in the oven. It doesn't get quite as crusty as with the hot pot method, but the crust is still quite good, and it's a whole lot easier. We should try the baking stone and stainless bowl idea, though. Anyway, super post - thanks.

  17. That looks incredible. The other day I was reading about sour dough bread and was pleased to see that it causes a lot less digestive issues than normal wheat bread because it doesn't have the yeast component. I should give it a try and see how I feel.

  18. I love sourdough-- can't wait to try this!

  19. This bread looks amazing Lisa! I love olive and I can only imagine how wonderful a tuna nicoise sandwich would taste on it.

  20. This loaf of bread looks really pretty and also very tasty! I love sourdough and olives, to I know I'd enjoy this.

  21. One of my fave breads. In fact, whenever confronted with a choice of breads at a restaurant, I always make a beeline for the olive one. ;)


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