I didn't like kalamata olives when I was a kid. No way. Couldn't do them. Too salty, too weird, to much impact and they just weren't the finger-topping black olives I was used to. It took some time to accept them and I made it a goal to get over myself. While I was flipping through a bread book and drooling over all the crunchy exteriors and pockets of air, I came across a recipe for Olive Stuffed Bread. "Hold the phone," said my stomach to my brain. "Be quiet and get to work," said my brain to my stomach. It's been mutually beneficial and loving relationship ever since. Breaking bread with your own inhibitions can lead to extreme satisfaction.
If you've never baked bread before, there are only two tricks to nailing this recipe. One, when it says add 1/2 cup of flour at a time, heed that rule. Two, don't be intimidated by the kneading, but lay off when the bread starts to hold its own shape. Under-kneading can keep the dough from rising correctly, but over-kneading will make for tough, sharp bread (and if your loaves end up like that, just dip them in soup).
Two more things (two loaves, two tips...see the pattern? It's all about peace). When you are dealing with olives, be careful for pits. It's time consuming but not impossible to buy olives with pits and pit them yourselves (it can save money but not necessarily time). You just don't want to bake a pit into your bread. Ouch. Second, this recipe is a basic structure for a white bread loaf. I have experimented with adding up to 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, but whole wheat can be tricky so I don't recommend it right off the bat. Given that, the olives themselves can stay or go. Hot pepper and cheese? Sage, rosemary and olive oil stuffing? Sweet cinnamon swirl? Spinach and ricotta? All the garlic in your house? Put that in your loaf and bake it.
Olive Stuffed Bread
makes 2 hefty loaves
1 tbspn yeast
2 tbspn extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp salt
3 to 3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cup hot water (120 F)
2+ cloves minced KGF garlic
2 tbspn minced shallots or onions
2 cups chopped kalamata olives
2 tpspn extra-virgin olive oil
Combine yeast, olive oil, salt, and 1 cup flour in a bowl. Stir and add water with a whisk. Beat well for 3 minutes or until smooth. Add remainder of flour 1/2 cup at a time. Stir with wooden spoon to combine between additions. By cup 2.5, you can use your hands to begin to knead and mix. Turn out on a floured surface. Knead until springy to touch, about 5 minutes, adding 1 tablespoon flour as needed to prevent sticking.
Put dough in lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover with a slightly damp dishcloth or plastic and let sit for an hour or until tripled in size.
While dough is rising, combine ingredients for filling. Preheat oven to 400F
Gently deflate dough and turn onto floured surface. Divide into two parts. Form each part into large rectangles. Spread the filling evenly over the two pieces. Roll up dough lengthwise and pinch the seams to seal. Cover loaves with dishcloth or plastic and let rise until doubled, about 25 minutes.
Slash tops with serrated knife in 3 places to allow steam to escape...and for that professional bread baker touch.
Bake in oven for 25 to 35 minutes.