The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Lilpastrysplashy's picture

Dense bottom of the bread.

June 18, 2012 - 3:15pm -- Lilpastrysplashy


I have been making multiple boules lately and they all have been pretty successfull except for the bottom of the loaves.  Everytime I take them out of the oven, the whole loaf of bread seems to be light and have great crumb, but the bottom of the loaf to about half an inch above, it seems to be really dense, why exactly is this happening.

P.S.- I slide the dough into the oven onto a preheated stone and use steam in the oven, yet nothing seems to help.

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.

linder's picture

This week our bread to have with soup at lunch time will be olive bread.  I've been wanting to try this bread again from the Il Fornaio Baking Book by Franco Galli for quite sometime.  I made two changes to the recipe as given.  I used 1/4 cup of my 70% hydration whole wheat sourdough starter instead of the 1/4 cup biga.  I also used kalamata olives instead of green olives as my husband doesn't really care for the green olives. 

The loaf had good oven spring, so I am hopeful that I might even have an open crumb in this bread, which would be a first for me.  We shall see tomorrow when we cut into the loaf. 


PiPs's picture

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 …

Olive bread!

Of course…

…  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



Total flour



Total water



Total salt



Prefermented flour



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






AP Flour



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,


wally's picture

Hamelman's Fougasse with Olives

August 15, 2009 - 11:38am -- wally

Having battered myself attempting to conquer (well...make peace with?) baguettes - hampered by still developing scoring techniques and an old gas oven that simply won't retain steam - this morning I decided to treat myself to something less daunting.  I've been looking at some of the flatbread recipes in Hamelman's Bread, and his fougasse recipe caught my interest.  It's simple and has a pleasing scoring pattern (no gringes, thank you very much).

ehanner's picture

Mark's Olive loaf
Mark's Olive loaf

Kalamata crumb
Kalamata & Cheese crumb

This is my first attempt at Mark's Olive and Pepper Jack Savory loaf and I must say it was fun.
It is basically his rustic white with some olives chopped and rinsed/dried (about 15 per loaf in my version) and the cheese was 120 grams cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Both of these amounts are more than he calls for by about 30%. The Olive oil was 40 grams for the 3.1 Lb batch warmed and mixed with 1-1/2 tsp each of dry Thyme and fresh chopped Rosemary that sat over night. The oil smelled great the next day!

The morning after mixing the Biga, I mixed the pre ferment with the water and oil to sufficiently distribute the biga and then added all the flour and dry products in the final dough. I just mixed for a few minutes until the gluten started to develop. The folding will fully develop the dough over 3 hours.  Once the flour is fully incorporated I added the olives and cheese and mixed on low just until they were combined.

3 hours of ferment with folds at 1 and 2 hours and a 1.5 hour proof after shaping per Marks video. Bake at 415 for 30-35 minutes with normal steam.

I took two of these in banettons to our friends home and baked them while we waited for the ribs to be done. They were well received and everyone was amazed at the flavor depth and after taste. This is a very nice gift bread for future consideration.

I wish I lived near Montana. I would love to see how Mark does this loaf. It's a little fussy but well worth the trouble.


ehanner's picture

Mark's Olive Loaf post got me thinking about the flavors I like and what would work well in bread. There are a few combinations that seem to be naturally delicious in other situations. Garlic/lemon/olive oil for example or swap the lemon with another acid, say basalmic vinegar or some other milder vinegar. The contrast between the elements seems to be what makes my senses perk up. Chicken wings with strong garlic and lemon is good. Mint jelly with hot pepper is a surprise treat. Each is a clear distinct flavor on it's own. Sugar on tomatoes and salt on water melon are two more that make the point.

Recently I bought a quantity of large green olives stuffed with blue cheese that were really good. I've also had stuffed with Gorgonzola that were out of this world delicious. I've used both in bread along with stuffed with garlic with good results.

The thing is, and this is a totally subjective opinion, I like to be able to identify the flavors clearly. There are times when I enjoy a hint of this or after taste of that, like with wines, but for me, good garlic bread makes a statement. 

Along the same line, most of the music written in my life time that has become popular, is clean. That is to say you can identify and clearly hear the primary artist. You get to enjoy the personality of the singer or instrumental. Think about the Beatles, Johnny Cash, Sarah Brightman, Red Hot Chili Peppers. They all share that quality of clean clear, timeless sound. I try to season my foods with the same thought in mind. No screaming allowed, strong clear flavors that add to the base.

Good bread has a certain wholesome aroma depending on the type of bread, that sets the stage. Then if we are careful there is an after taste that stays on the toung that reminds of nuts or wheat fields. Adding a complementary flavor such as olives or savory seasonings or cheeses complicates the taste and (in my humble opinion) needs to be approached with respect for the over all outcome. To many flavors end up being a muddy taste.

Anyway, for what it's worth, that's my approach to flavors. Green tea with lemon and honey, Rustic farm loaf with rosemary, Deli Rye with caraway, apple pie with cinnamon, Bruchetta with basil and feta, Pita stuffed with tomato salad and Chili powder. These are some of my favorites.

Now I'm hungry!



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