Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pane all'Olive... or in English, Olive Loaf

Hawaiian Breeze and Apple Cinnamon. The leftover candles I promised my Mom I would have on hand for the hurricane. The only candles I could find as the store was nearly cleaned out. And that's what my apartment smells like right now, as the cool wind blows through my windows after the storm. Well that, and fresh baked bread. Fresh baked olive loaf bread. The other staple that stores were cleaned out of this weekend. But that was no matter to me, because I can bake my own. And this was the perfect excuse to do so on this quiet, and yet anxious weekend.
After the second rise
I knew I was going to make bread and I knew I didn't want to make the same old no knead that's been my go to. With virtually no plans to go anywhere and most of my to do list foiled by the advent of Irene, I wanted to branch out and do something different. And perusing Jim Lahey's book (aka my bread bible) I stumbled almost right away on olive loaf. So perfect too, considering I had made a seemingly terrible last minute purchase a few weeks back of some cured Moroccan olives that I had promptly forgotten in the back of my fridge and now needed to use sooner rather than later.
And who knew that these baked olives could take on almost a buttery flavor, though still sharp and briny. The olives on the crust were nice and crispy and the ones inside the loaf were almost creamy. With just the tiniest spread of butter... heaven. It may be the only thing I eat all day today. Next up though I'm thinking of making some Pane con Formaggio or cheese bread with the leftover homemade from Italy cheese my co-worker gave me or Stecca with some homemade slow roasted tomatoes. And if the weather stays like this, I'll have no hesitation turning the oven to 500 degrees. To fill my home with the smell of fresh baked bread, one small thing that my hands can make from nothing all by themselves, is such a priceless gift. One of my small arts in the act self-sufficiency.
Pane all'Olive adaped from Jim Lahey's my bread
1 1/2 c. flour less 1 Tbl
1 Tbl. flaxseed meal- optional
3/4 c. roughly chopped pitted olives
1/4 tsp. instant or active yeast
3/4 c. cool water- 55 to 65 degrees
Cornmeal or additional flour for dusting

1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, flaxseed meal and olives. Add water and using a wooden spoon or hands, mix until the dough is wet and sticky. Cover and let sit at room temperature until dough has more than doubled in size, approx 12 to 18 hours (perfect to do the evening before).

2. Dust a work surface with four and using a dough scraper, scrape out the dough and gently fold the edges of the dough into the center. Dust with cornmeal and place in a tea towel. Let rise again for another 1-2 hours. Dough is ready when you gently poke with your finger and it doesn't spring back, but holds the impression. If it does spring back, let sit for another 15 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 475 and place the dutch over (sans the lid if using Le Creuset) in the center of the rack to preheat as well. When bread, pot and oven are ready, remove pot from oven and quickly but gently place the dough in. Cover with the lid and bake for 25 minutes.

4. Remove the lid after 30 minutes and continue to bake for another 10-15, until bread is a nice brown color. Lift the bead from the pan carefully with a spatula or tongs and let cool on a rack.

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