I baked a loaf of Italian olive bread this morning. The warm, chewy and slightly salty flavor has been on my mind for several days, so I finally gave in to my cravings. Italian olive bread is similar to the specialty bread that is served in Italian restaurants. The warm bread is perfect for dipping in seasoned olive oil (a combination of sea salt, granulated garlic, red pepper flakes). When it becomes a day old I like to toast a couple of slices, then add tomato bruschetta topping.
Any type of olive will work in this recipe. I used black olives in this particular loaf, but it’s traditionally made with Gaeta olives. I can’t find Gaeta olives around here, so I usually use pitted black olives. I also like to use Italian oil cured olives. These olives have strong olive oil and salt flavors. Greek Kalamata olives work well, too. Kalamata olives are slightly salty and are usually packed in olive oil and wine vinegar. I recommend reducing the olives from 3/4 cup to 1/2 cup if using Italian oil cured olives or Greek Kalamata olives in this recipe. I think the bread might be too salty if you don’t reduce the oil cured or Kalamata olives.
We usually slice the bread as soon as I take it out of the oven. It’s hot and still a bit doughy inside and melts away in your mouth. My husband covers the hot bread with butter, but I like to eat it plain or dip it in seasoned olive oil. If you want the bread to slice without collapsing, then let it cool for about 30 minutes or until it is slightly warm or room temperature. The bread will slice evenly and it won’t be doughy. Besides the great taste of the warm, chewy bread, freshly baked Italian olive bread will make your house smell like a bakery—that’s a plus for me.
Italian Olive Bread Recipe
- 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1-1/4 cups warm water
- 1/2 cup butter softened
- 3/4 cup pitted Gaeta or black olives chopped
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
In a small bowl or measuring cup, pour water over yeast. Let stand until yeast dissolves and is bubbly.
In a large bowl, mix together flour and salt. Make a well in the middle of flour and add yeast mixture; mix well.
Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is firm and springy, working in butter and olives. Shape dough into a ball.
Coat large bowl with 1/2 of olive oil. Place dough in center of bowl and cover with a dishcloth. Let rise for about 1 hour in warm place or until dough doubles in size.
Punch down dough. Cover with dishcloth, and let stand for about 1-1/2 hours or until it doubles in size.
Heat over to 475 degrees. Grease baking sheet with remaining olive oil. Bake bread until golden brown, about 30-35 minutes.
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