The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Olive Levain

golgi70's picture

Olive Levain

Made with 35% fresh milled local Hard Red Winter Wheat (Hollis).  I miscalculated with the olives and after pitting came up short but proceeded.  I will post my formula but I'd double this for sure.  The addition of an herb could also be nice but my olives were a mix of three green varieties brined with garlic and oregano.  Had I used enough maybe I wouldn't need any herbs.  I'll find out next time around. 

Olive Levain:                              Makes two large or three smaller loaves                                                                                                                                         

Total Flour       1120

Total H20           813             72.5%

Olives                 150            13.5 %

Levain: 3-4 hours @ 72.5% hydration DDT 78F (20% prefermented flour)
90 Wheat Starter
180 Wheat, fresh milled
118 H20
200    Wheat
32      Rye
663    Artisan (malted bread flour @ 11.5% protein)
650.   H20
150    Olives, herbed (a mixed variety of garlic oregano green olives)
16      Salt


Total Dough = 2132   3 loaves at 705 or 2 loaves at 1066  

Drain and dry olives on paper towels when you make the levain. 

Autolyse 2 hours

Add levain and mix on speed 1 for 3 minutes 

Add salt and continue mixing on speed 1 until well incorporated. 

Turn to medium speed and devlop dough to medium development.

Add olives and mix until evenly dispersed.

Bulk ferment 2 1/2 hours with stretch and fold at the 30 minute and 1:15 minute mark

Divide, preshape, shape to bowls.  Retard for 8-12 hours

Bake 500 w/steam and turn down to 460 and continue for 20-30 minutes pending size of your loaf. 



CeciC's picture

Your bread is lovely!!! Im gonna steal your formulae

*EVIL me* 

Thank you so much Josh!!


Mebake's picture

Lovely looking loaf, Josh! Yes, increase the olives... makes a huge difference.


dabrownman's picture

olive bread morn often and prefer green ones to black in just about everything, Yours looks great and will try this bread at 25% olives.  Getting good green olives at the olive bar at Kroger still makes the olives for this bread over $5 .Good thing I don't make it very often.  Lucy does love olives but the other girls not so much., 

You have a nice looking looking Olive Levain there - Happy baking.

PS I commented on your post on my last bake about the best way to get some smoked meats to you. 

dabrownman's picture

I think if the spell check button is on then the comment disappears if you hit save. I too like the green olives but don't get to make this bread often - Lucy loves olives like me but the other girls not so much.

Getting 300 g of good olives at Kroger's olive bar would be over $5 - ouch!  Another reason not to make it often:-) 

Yours looks great though and makes me want to bake one right away.

I posted a reply to your comment on my last bake about how the best way might be to get you some smoked meats.

Happy baking Josh

trailrunner's picture

see my note further down in the thread about where to get better olives than at Kroger !!   You need great olives and we all aren't as lucky as Josh to get local…darn !!  c

dabrownman's picture

They had the best price on small amounts of chipotle chili powder when no one heard of it much less sold it.  then they went through some sever financial problems and closed a bunch of poor performing stores and mine was one of them. Now they are miles away.  You would think that for $8.99 a pound, the olives on Kroger's olive bar would be more than  half decent and they are with decent variety but make baking with them in bread prohibitive.

Thanks for the tip as i do get there now and again when near.

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

What the hell!  I just typed out a post, and it did it again!  Just posted the title of my post but no post!  And I didnt even use spell check like dabrownman suggested it being. 

Anyway, nice bake Josh, as usual!


trailrunner's picture

I love olive bread. Will have to give this one a go next time we have a pasta dinner. As to olives.  I found the most wonderful jars of olives at World Market. They are in the food section in huge jars. They are wonderful and very very reasonable in price. Only bad thing is we now eat a lot more olives !  So check your local mall and see if there is a World Market. caroline

golgi70's picture

Local Organic Hippy land if i will.  And I love it.  I'm sure I could find cheaper olives but we have local producers so thats the route I like to choose.  I have a few farmer friends (thanks to my trading) that make them so I'll just have to earn my olives in loaves.  

Thanks for all the kind words.  

I strongly emphasize the need for more olives in this loaf.  And if your olives are not flavored I'd maybe push for the addition of some thyme leaves or spice to compliment.  I suppose a touch of olive oil wouldn't be out of order but too much and you'll lose the open crumb.  


annie the chef's picture
annie the chef

I love the green pieces of olives around the beautifully open crumb. I have baked a few olive loaves with not-so-open crumb.  I guess I will need to cut the olives into smaller pieces rather than just use olive halves.

When it comes to the dough with olives, walnuts or figs or other chunky bits that tend to poke through all the air bubbles in the dough, do you use different or special method to shape it?

Thank you for sharing your beautiful loaf.


golgi70's picture

I've only recently learned that I like certain olives.  Cheap olives that are put on pizzas and kalamatas (even the fancy ones) don't speak to me.  These green ones were delish.  Also small and I had to pit em myself.  As for chunky add ins and retaining a nice crumb.  Well first things first I like to mix to medium development knowing to work these guys in slowly will fully develop the dough.  And the only way to get em in without damaging the gluten is gently.  As for shaping I used my standard technique which is also to be gentle yet make a nice taught shape.  Many olive breads have quite an open crumb, and are lower in hydration.  The open crumb comes from good fermentation and well timed folds.  Also baking them cold gets that extra spring which always helps open things up a bit further. 

I have a hybridized shaping style from what i was originally taught and have done countless times merged with concepts I've seen in books and online.  It would be hard to describe in words but maybe some day I'll make my video

Hope this is of any help.  



annie the chef's picture
annie the chef

and look forward to see your shaping video.