Yeast #3: Olive Bread!

086Ok, I may not have given the yeast a fair fight.

I definitely put the odds on my side for success by picking these long-rise, no-knead bread recipes.

There’s almost no way you couldn’t have success. Thank goodness.

When this resolution began to try to make something with yeast every month this year to get over my “killing of yeast” phobia, I had no idea these kinds of recipes existed. Recipes that used basically cold or cool water because they had to rise slowly for 12-18 hours. Since my history had been to kill yeast by heating the liquid too hot, these recipes were a way to eliminate the very thing that had caused failure in the past.

First it was pizza dough. Delicious and perfectly easy and successful.

Next came a lovely artisan loaf of bread. Delicious and perfectly easy and successful.

For this month, I wanted to replicate last month’s bread but do a variation to keep things interesting. I googled and came up with olive bread from this website. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was another Jim Lahey recipe and sure enough he was credited at the end as coming from a book called “My Bread.”

Lahey makes things easy. The basic dough comes together in seconds. The only difference from this recipe and the last was the omission of salt since the olives have salt in them which gets absorbed into the bread. This recipe advocated for a higher bake temperature – 500 degrees instead of 450 – so I split the difference. After all of that time waiting for the bread to rise and the small fortune of olives in the recipe, I wasn’t willing to watch the end result be a burned up, terrible mess.

It really was simple:

  • 3 Cups Bread Flour – I used regular all purpose flour because who has bread flour?
  • 1 1/2 Cup Kalamata Olives, pitted, drained, roughly chopped – for me this was a full bottle of T. Joes pitted Kalamata olives, so lots of olives!
  • 3/4 Teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 Cups cool water

The hardest part was chopping up the olives. Once the craggy mess is combined, it just goes into the oven. And does its slow-rise thing for the next 12-18 hours. Or longer.

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The challenging part of these recipes is getting the timing right. It’s not like you can wake up on a Saturday and have bread by Saturday afternoon. You have to start the day before you want bread and you have to start early enough to get enough rest time before you want to back. On the other hand, if you need to leave it rising for more than 18 hours, it’s ok too. It’s very forgiving of giving you more time if you need it in the slow-rise phase.

I got the bread started just before 3 p.m. with the idea that I hoped to be baking it in the late morning of Saturday. For the February loaf, I hadn’t started it until almost bed time which meant it was pretty late the next day before I could bake. Ideally, I think it would be best to start the bread around noon and then just know you could bake late morning the next day or even early into the afternoon. That still gives time to allow the bread to cool before you cut into it if you’re someone like me who won’t necessarily eat a whole loaf at one sitting (like a family of 4 or more might). Or always plan to have company on bread baking days.

As usual, when it went into the oven, it looked pretty lumpy. In three hours, it had already started to look a lot smoother.

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By 11:30 the next morning, it looked great – yeasty, bubbly. At that point, you just turn it out on to a board with flour, give it a few folds, and then let it rise about 2 hours and bake.

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Last time, I had issues with sticking to the towel in the last rise so this time I decided to try letting it rise on my plastic cutting board and just putting it into the hot pan. It did release a bit better than using the floured towel, but it didn’t release evenly. My bread was still fine, but it did end up a little lopsided since it hit the pan off to one side. It’s not a big deal, but it wasn’t as show stopping as my February loaf.

For more pictures on the folding and second rise process, last month gives more detail.

This loaf was always sticky from the moisture of the olives. After the second rise of 2 hours, most of the flour had been absorbed in and I did still have trouble getting it to release from the plastic board. Still, it was easier for cleaning than the towel. I may still try a few other ideas and see if I can come up with a “lazy person’s” solution.

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The dough went into the hot dutch oven and then into the over for 30 minutes covered and then about 20 minutes uncovered. It was beautiful. Smelled great.

Since I had plans to meet a friend at a movie, this loaf got a chance to cool fully before I tried cutting anything. That made a huge difference to my cutting compared to the first loaf when I had too eagerly cut into it while hot. Things kind of jelled together making the cuts from my bread knife cleaner and not compressing the loaf as much.

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112It made lovely toast with a frittata that night and I’ve been eating it for breakfast and often for lunch for several days. I would happily make it again with only one change – maybe fewer olives. I love olives, but I think it seems a little heavy handed. Maybe 2/3 or 1/2 of what was suggested might be plenty. Still, it was an excellent variation on the Lahey standard. I would happily make it often.105

Yeast #3 is in the books.  Next month my goal is to start making things where I could kill the yeast and have to finally figure out the warm liquid temperature that will make things work as I expect.  Or hope.  I still want to keep it simple, so it’s likely to be something like a loaf of basic white bread.    We’ll see.

By the end of the year, I hope I can make things like pastry where the yeast dough is just one lovely component.

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