The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


bwraith's picture

Sourdough Pagnotta With Olives

Sourdough Pagnotta With Olives (1)Sourdough Pagnotta With Olives (1)

Sourdough Pagnotta With Olives (2)Sourdough Pagnotta With Olives (2)

Sourdough Pagnotta With Olives Recipe

This recipe is a slight variation of Sourdough-guy's blog entry on Pagnotta and Ciabatta. Many thanks to Sourdough-guy for the recipe, which he says is his variation of an Il Fornaio recipe. I've posted pictures of my process and a spreadsheet with the amounts in ounces, grams, and baker's percentages.


  • 400 grams fresh 100% hydration starter (my starter was taken out of the refrigerator after having been refreshed 3 days earlier. I probably should have used more recently refreshed and vigorous starter)
  • 650 grams water
  • 700 grams KA Organic AP
  • 50 grams KA rye blend (optional - substitute white flour, whole wheat, or other)
  • 50 grams Heartland Mills Golden Buffalo flour (optional - substitute white flour, whole wheat, or other)
  • 18 grams salt
  • 300 grams pitted halved olives (I used calamata olives)


Mix ingredients until well integrated and there is some resistance to stirring. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

I think there was slightly too much water for my choice of flours and maybe because of the olives, which made the dough harder to handle. This was very slack dough. I would use a little less water next time, but I'm reporting this as I actually did it.

Fold and Rest, Repeat

Every 30-60 minutes pour the dough out onto the counter, let it spread a little, and fold it up into a ball. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover and let rest 30-60. Repeat this process every 30-60 minutes 3-4 times.

I may not have repeated this enough, given the very wet dough I ended up with. The dough was still too slack later when I tried to shape the loaves.

Bulk Fermentation

Place the dough in an oiled rising bucket or bowl. Allow it to rise by double at room temperature.

Actually, I wanted to bake by midnight, so I let it get a little warmer, about 80F, which may have been a little bit of a problem. I think it made the slack dough even a little more slack to also be warm.


Pour the dough out on the table on a bed of flour and cut in two. Work with each loaf separately. Form a ball by carefully and gently pulling the sides toward the center repeatedly to get some surface tension on the smooth side underneath. Do not overhandle.

Here I was a disastrous dough handler. I way overhandled it because it was too slack and would not form a ball. It just kept spreading out quickly. Well, I just decided after way too many times pulling at the sides to stop trying and went for flat bread. So, I can't emphasize enough, don't overhandle. Just make that shape and be done with it.

I am doing a second version, and I think I've discovered how to do this. Use thumbs and fingers of one hand to pinch and hold the gathered sides over the center, holding the gathered edges up a little to help the sides stretch and the shape to become more round and taking a bit of weight off the loaf. Use the other thumb and a couple of fingers to pinch a bit of the side, pull the bit out and up and over to the center, stretching the side as you do. Gather that bit in with the first hand along with others as you work your way around the loaf. Try to make it round by gathering a bit from the place that sticks out the most.

Turn the dough over onto a thick bed of flour with the rough side down.

Final Proof

Allow the loaves to increase in size by double.

For me, this took about 3 hours. I'm still having a hard time figuring out when these higher hydration loaves have finished proofing. As I said there was too much water, and I never got these loaves to stiffen up very much. They mostly spread out on the counter.


Bake at 425F.

This took about 25 minutes, and the internal temperature went quickly to 210F, which I've experienced with these flat high hydration loaves. I didn't get much oven spring. I think the overhandling was a serious problem


Allow the loaf to fully cool.


The flavor was as good as any bread I've made. The crumb was much less open than I had hoped but was soft and flavorful. I think the flatness was because of the overhandling and maybe adding too much water to the dough. Maybe another fold or two would have helped. The gluten never really stiffened up enough. Still, this was a great tasting bread. My bad for the handling, but I'm already trying a second one. I also think the olives made the dough wetter, heavier, and harder to handle. The next try will be without olives.


Subscribe to RSS - Olives