My love for olives has evolved over the years. When I was young, black olives were served for holidays or with company meals. Mom knew enough to have several cans chilling in the fridge, because each of us girls needed ten…one for each finger, of course.
Green olives, and their little red pimientos, were gross. Something my folks had on a toothpick (along with a slimy little onion) in their martinis. Eeeeuw.
Many, many years passed before I discovered Kalamata olives and fell madly in love. Then, at a book club meeting (I believe wine was involved, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have tried them) I ate an embarrassing number of giant green olives, stuffed with garlic and jalapeños. Oh.My.
Today I put all of these olives, along with some sharp cheddar cheese, into a rustic, round, crispy loaf of bread. The dough is simple and basic; there are just a few extra steps to take to add the cheese and olives. It was super easy, and better than I had dared to hope. This will be a serious staple around here from now on!
|Easy Cheesy Olive Bread|| |
- 1½ cups very warm water
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 3½ - 4 cups bread flour
- 1 cup grated cheese (I used sharp Cheddar. Italian cheeses would be good, too.)
- 1 cup chopped olives, pressed firmly in paper towels to remove excess moisture
- Prepare baking sheet by sprinkling the center lightly with cornmeal.
- In a small bowl, combine ½ cup of the warm water with sugar. Sprinkle in the yeast and allow the mixture to sit until bubbly - about 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl (a stand mixer with a dough hook, if you have it) combine the remaining warm water, yeast mixture, olive oil, garlic salt, and 3 cups of the bread flour. Mix together for 1 minute.
- Slowly add as much of the remaining flour as needed for the dough to come cleanly away from the sides of the bowl. Knead by machine for 5 minutes, or by hand for 8 minutes.
- Coat a large bowl with olive oil. Form the dough into a rough ball, turn several times in the bowl to coat the surface, cover and let rise until doubled - about 1 hour.
- Move to a lightly floured surface. Flatten dough and roll out to a rectangle approximately 14-inches by 9-inches, with the long side facing you. It should only take a few swipes with the rolling pin.
- Place half of the grated cheese in the center third of the rectangle. Cover with half of the olive mixture. Fold the right side of the dough over the cheese and olives.
- Place the remaining cheese and olives over the top (the left third of the dough will still be bare). Fold the left side over to cover the cheese and olives. Pinch all around to seal.
- Gently roll again - not quite as large, about 12-inches by 7-inches with the long side facing you. Again fold the right side over the center third, and then the left side over the right side. Pinch edges and form into a ball by gently bringing dough up to meet in the middle, pinching to close. Turn the dough over so the pinched center is on the bottom.
- Place dough on prepared baking sheet and let rise until almost doubled - about 40 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place a baking pan in the bottom of the oven and add several cups of water. Preheat oven to 450, giving the oven plenty of time to develop some steam before the bread has risen.
- Cut an "X" in the top of the loaf with a razor or sharp knife, and carefully (that steam will be HOT!) open oven and quickly place bread on center rack. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until it's deep golden brown.
- Cool on a baking rack.
I’ll bet this dough would make wonderful soft breadsticks, dipped in a little marinara sauce. Or maybe even pizza dough! Guess I’d better go buy another big jar of those green olives.