The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

olive bread

Mebake's picture

Recently, I have been limiting myself to a weekly baking routine, as I nurse my back after the spinal Steroid injection. I have been on and off TFL, viewing other members’ posts, and drawing inspiration from their contributions.

Having baked a Volkornbrot from Hamelman last week, I wanted something lighter, and the oblack olives sitting in a corner of my fridge was I all the nudge I needed to choose Olive levain. I have baked this recipe last year, and did not care much for its flavor, but this time, I decided to give it another go.

The recipe is from Hamleman’s “Bread”, which calls for a liquid white levain, and 10% whole wheat. I used Waitrose strong white bread flour for 1/2 the flour quantity, and the rest was an ordinary all purpose flour. The whole wheat flour was freshly milled. I wanted to mix the dough very minimally, and significantly increased the hydration in hopes of achieving the random open cell structure depicted in the book. I mixed the dough with a wooden spoon, slowly, adding water gradually, until a shaggy dough was formed. The dough contained only the levain, flour and water, and was rested while pitting the olives. 15 minutes later, the salt was sprinkled on top , olives were mixed in, and the dough was folded gently in the bowl to incorporate all the ingredients, which was a clear deviation from Hamelman’s instructions which state that everything should be mixed, including salt, but the olives, and after slightly developing the dough, the olives would be added. Remaining steps were exactly as Hamleman’s. I don’t know how significant my deviations were to the outcome. Any ideas? 


The dough was shaped, rested for 1/2 hour, and then refrigerated for 8 hours. It sat warming up for an hour while the oven was heated.

The Bread came out crackling from the oven. The crust was very crispy, and the crumb was cool and and soft: the perfect sourdough.

Now i realized that i underestimated the subtle flavors that this bread carry. This bread's flavor shines exceptionally well when dipped in olive oil. Lovely bread! and an excellent way to make use of surplus olives.


dabrownman's picture

We, counting my fine apprentice,  have wanted for some time to make an olive bread that was loosely based on Nancy Silverman’s fine loaf that she did with Julia Child on Baking With The Masters.  But, since the girls at home despise olives except for olive oil, this want has gone unfulfilled for what seems like forever.


But, today the evil veil of olive hatred was lifted just enough, to allow an olive loaf to breathe a breath of yeasty CO2 without being killed outright by evil doers before the scald, add ins and olives could be incorporated.


We wanted a bread that had 20% whole grains and some rosemary that pairs so well with olives.  We also wanted some cracked bulgar berries that were scalded.  No sprouts this time - using them to make white diastatic malt instead.  The bread would possibly have been better with sprouts and seeds or nuts – maybe next time.


A mixture of 95% kalamata and 5% green martini olives were used.  The salt was kept down a bit since the olive brought plenty of their own.  The total hydration was around 70% which is a little low for us but the scald and olives brought some extra liquid that was un accounted for in the formula.  The dough felt like it was around 72% hydration but it is harder to tell with all the olives.


The diamond scoring pattern was helped along by refrigerating the large 3.7 pound batard for 3 hours after it had final proofed to 95% or so.  We wanted a huge loaf since no one could  know when we would be allowed to make another one - with olives in it.

There was no way this was going to fit in the mini oven.  With it only being 106 F today, a full 10 degrees less than last few days, we felt it was a real cold spell that we should take advantage of - so Betsy was fired up to 500 F with steamers and stone in place.  The batard baked up deeply brown and very crispy in the Big GE oven using (2) of Sylvia’s steam pans with towels.

The crust was thick and the extra drying with the oven door ajar kept the crust crispy even after it cooled.  The crumb was light, moist, a little glossy and fairly open with all the bran, whole grains and add ins.   Best of all this bread tastes wonderful.  It was just what we were looking for - with the exception of the sprouts, 50 g more olives and some pistachio nuts that we will add next time to gild the lily and turn this into just the kind of bread my apprentice drools over.  It is super just as it is though.


The YW and multi-grain SD starters were built separately over (2) 3 hour builds and then combined.  The water, flour and salt were autolysed for 2 hours,.  All the rest of the ingredients were then added except the bulgar scald and chopped olives.

The dough was kneaded for 4 minutes and then placed into an oiled bowl to rest.  (4) sets of S & F’s, 15 minutes apart, were done on and oiled counter with the scald and olives incorporated in the 3rd set.  They were well incorporated by the 4th set.  The dough was allowed to ferment and develop on the counter for 90 minutes. 

It was then pre-shaped into a large batard, rested for 10 minutes, final shaped and placed into a rice floured and cloth lined basket, placed in a tall kitchen plastic trash bag to proof.  It was immediately refrigerated for 14 hours. 

The dough increased in volume 57.3 % in the fridge overnight.  It was allowed to come to room temperature and proof an additional 2 hours total getting to the 92.6% proof mark before refrigerating again for 3 hours.  This extra retardation would not normally be required but the intracacies of life come first.  Not really but it sounds so right and good.

The oven was preheated to 500 F with steam for 45 minutes before the dough was removed from the fridge, un-molded from the basket onto parchment and a peel, slashed and placed on the stone for baking.  The oven was immediately turned down to 450 F and steamed for 15 minutes.   The steam was removed and the temperature turned down to 425 F convection this time.  The batard was rotated 180 degrees every 5 minutes for another 30 minutes until it tested 205 F in the center.

The oven was turned off and the bread was allowed to crisp on the stone with the oven door ajar for 12 minutes before being removed to a cooling rack.  The batard rose to 209 F while crisping on the stone.

The formula follows the pix's

Combo Starter Olive Bread with Rosemary and Bulgar Scald    
Mixed StarterBuild 1Build 2Total%
SD Starter250252.86%
Durum atta250253.28%
Steel cut oats010101.31%
6 grain cereal010101.64%
Ground  Flax Seed0550.66%
Oat bran0550.66%
Yeast Water400405.25%
Total Starter1557022529.53%
Levain % of Total Weight13.42%   
Dough Flour %  
Diastatic Malt30.39%  
Durum Atta253.28%  
6 Grain Cereal445.77%  
White WW354.59%  
Bread Flour30039.37%  
Dough Flour762100.00%  
Dough Hydration65.22%   
Total Flour874.5   
T. Dough Hydration69.70%   
Whole Grain %19.95%   
Hydration w/ Adds69.70%   
Total Weight1,676   
Add - Ins %  
Kalamata Olives10213.39%  
Dried Rosemary20.26%  
Scald %  
Cracked Bulgar303.94%  
If we would have put in Sprouts %  
Total Sprouts455.91%  
Anonymous baker's picture
Anonymous baker (not verified)

I recently asked TFL how to score Richard Bertinet's Pain aux Olives to achieve the effect shown in his book, Dough:

I made a version of it this weekend, and they were right: It's rolled and the scored on the vertical.

The original recipe is a straight dough: combine ingredients, bulk ferment, roll dough into a long, flat rectangle, spread with olive paste, roll up, shape roll into bâtard, proof, score on the vertical, bake.

I modified it to use a sourdough preferment (52% prefermented flour) and retardation. Day 1: Make preferment. Day 2: Make dough, bulk ferment, shape, retard. Day 3: Bake. I didn't change the quantities of the original recipe, only the methods.

How did I like it? A lot!

I wrote in my journal: "Favorite bread in the whole wide world = Olive Bread."


[Click image for larger version.]


[Click image for larger version.]


1. Dough scored on the vertical.

2. The result after a 40-minute bake.

3. Here's a side-by-side. Bertinet's is on left. Not to scale: Bertinet's would be 1/3 the size, as he makes three small loaves out of the 875 grams of dough. I made one loaf.

4. The crumb.


1. Download a copy of the formula in PDF format.

2. Download a copy of the process in PDF format.

3. Download a copy of the spreadsheet in Excel 2007 format. The spreadsheet is editable, so you can use it to scale quantites up or down. You can edit the orange cells; all others cells are automatically calculated from formulae.

jennyloh's picture

I've been out of action for a while because my MacBook crash,  I couldn't manage my photos without my Mac,  and therefore have been busy baking, cooking,  taking pictures but not updating.


I just got back to Shanghai from Chinese New Year Holiday.  With another 2 days before work starts,  I have time on my hand to bake.  My son requested for his all time favorite - Olive Bread.  I decided to go with Daniel Leader's Local Bread - Fresh Herb Twist Recipe.  I like it because its simple,  yet,  the taste is good.  I've baked this bread twice before,  with dried herbs and with fresh herbs.  We decided the dried herbs taste better.  The taste of the fresh herbs was over empowering the bread taste.


This time,  I doubled the recipe so that I can make one with Herb and another one with Olives.


Herb and Olive Bread


It is indeed,  1 dough,  2 flavours - For the Herb Bread,  I split into 2 dough and did a twist,  For the Olive Bread,  I kept it in a Brotform.  Each of the Bread weights about 920g.

I did notice that somehow,  with this bread,  according to the book,  I baked it at 220-230 degrees celsius,  425 F,  40 minutes,  somehow,  the lower part of the bread remains a little more most.  Why is that so?  

A few things that has been going through my mind as I cut the bread:  I've got my baking stone,  heated up properly.  Perhaps the temperature is not hot enough?  I've baked 10 minutes longer than the required time of 30 minutes,  timing should be alright.....

Well, any advice will be appreciated.

Mebake's picture

This is a late bake of Hamelman's "BREAD" under levain breads. It is 90% White flour vs. 10% Wholwheat with 230g of Pitted olives.

The loaves were fermented for 2.5 hours bulk, and immedietly retarded for 8 hours overnight at 50F (10c). I suspect the crumb will be tighter than i wish, because i believe the loaves needed an additional 1 hour fermentation prior to retarding.

Any ways, today i'll cut into them and find out!


jennyloh's picture

I'm back from more than 2 weeks business trip and couldn't wait to start on the Jeffrey Hamelman's challenge.  Well,  it didn't quite happen.  With my failed attempt of the Jeffrey Hamelman's Baguette with Poolish,  and failed attempt to make my own malt flour,  still looking for high gluten flour for my Jeffrey Hamelman's bagel,  well,  I adhered to my son's appeal for Olive Bread.  He simply loves olives.  

At least my Olive Bread turns out as expected, although I thought for a moment, that I lost my touch on shaping the dough as the olive started spilling out,  making it difficult to fold the dough without affecting bubbles.  

It turns out surprisingly soft and chewy on the inside.


See recipe - click here. Olive Bread




breadbakingbassplayer's picture

Hey All,

Just wanted to share with you some recent bakes.  Enjoy!  Sorry no recipes.  Please bug me if you want any of them.


4/2/10 - Pane Casereccio di Genzano, Poilane style miche, Olive Bread.  The olive bread did not turn out well...  Sorry no crumbshots for these.

4/4/10 - Cottage Loaves

4/6/10 - Pane di Matera (Durum bread).  This is my poor attempt at this bread.  It's really difficult to shape.  Mine looked horrible, but they tasted pretty good...  More info here: and here:

4/7/10 - Breadcrumb Bread...  This is another attempt at doing the Pane di Matera shape, very slightly more successfully, but not quite there yet...

4/8/10 - Olive Bread...  Sorry no crumbshot...  My friends said it tasted really good...

4/11/10 - Pizza.  Mushroom, and Artichoke, and Jamon Serrano...


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