Olive and Herb Levain
To be honest, I hadn’t a clue what I felt like baking this weekend. My mind wandered over many possibilities. In the end my inspiration for this bake came from Nat. Though she is an avid admirer of all things bread, when I put the question to her about this weekend's bake, the answer came swiftly …
… how could I have forgotten Nat the Rat’s most favoured of all loaves.
The strange thing is, I can’t remember the last time I made an olive bread …
I do however, remember the last time I ate olive bread. While we were on holidays in New South Wales, we took a day trip to a small town called Bellingen. In this beautiful little hideaway I tasted my first EVER woodfired sourdough. It was an olive bread, baked by a small organic bakery called Hearthfire …. It was the most amazing olive bread I have ever tasted. A crumb that melted in your mouth, flecks of herbs throughout and large chunks of olives. We almost finished half of it with a spicy pumpkin hummos whilst picnicking by a small creek. On my return to Brisbane I even called the owner of the bakery to thank them for the amazing bread …
I think that delicious experience has scared me off making my own olive bread … until now.
When it came time to start prepping and sourcing ingredients to compliment the kalamata olives in my own bread, I needed to look no further than our front porch to find inspiration. Growing in small pots we have sage, rosemary, basil and thyme. Only a few hours later the dehydrator filled the kitchen with the aromas of drying herbs. Some lemon zest, (courtesy of the Tartine olive bread formula) and I had everything I needed.
Olive and Herb Levain
Total dough weight
Desired dough temperature 26°C
Levain build – 5 hrs 26°C
Starter (not included in final dough)
Flour (I used 70% AP flour, 18% Sifted fresh milled wheat, 9% sifted fresh milled spelt and 3% sifted fresh milled rye)
Final dough 26°C
Freshly milled whole wheat flour
Freshly milled rye flour
Kalamata olives halved
Finely chopped dried herbs
Zest on 1 lemon
1. Autolyse flour and water 45 mins
2. Add levain and knead 5-10 mins. Add salt and knead a further 5-10 mins. Gently mix in olives, herbs and lemon zest.
3. Bulk ferment 2.5 hours with two stretch and folds at 30 mins in the first hour.
4. Preshape and bench rest for 20 mins
5. Shape and proof for 2.5 hours
6. Bake in steamed oven for 10 mins at 250°C then 30 mins at 200°C
As you can imagine our kitchen smells heavenly this afternoon.
The crusts chorused loudly when they were removed from the oven while I fought the growing temptation to pick at protruding olives.
The crumb is soft and anything but chewy with olives nestled and peering out of every slice.
For me it won’t surpass the olive bread from our holidays but I am pretty sure I have made Nat’s weekend.
All the best,