In my previous post about our olive harvesting and brining escapades, I mentioned my adoration of the olive bread from New Norcia Bakery, and my desire to be able to recreate it in the comfort of my own home.
Well, I think I’ve figured it out.
This loaf is beautifully dense, and has a slightly soft and chewy texture with bursts of briny olive goodness scattered throughout. It was perfect with this Neil Perry chicken casserole, but it wouldn’t be hard to demolish the whole loaf on its own while it was still warm, accompanied with a good butter.
I pitted and roughly chopped about half a cup of olives from our stash for this loaf. For aesthetics and flavour, I would definitely bump that up to at least a cup of olives of any kind, and use them pitted but otherwise whole. As with New Norcia’s fruit bread, it’s lovely to be able to slice into a loaf and see whole fruit or olive.
Knead to Know
You’ll also note that I have used yeast in addition to starter in this recipe. In this case, the starter is mainly to add to the flavour profile, while the yeast gives it its relatively quick rise compared to proper sourdoughs. If you’re not using bread flour, I would also strongly recommend adding extra gluten flour to give it a decent spring.
Speaking of spring, to figure out how long to knead the dough for, whether you’re doing it by hand, or machine, I find that it’s about ready when the dough is still a little tacky, there’s a bit of bounce to the dough, and it’s pulling away reasonably cleanly from the sides of the bowl. My doughs never quite pass the perfect window pane test, they’re usually just under, but close is still fine.
If you’re using a stand mixer with a dough hook like I do, I also periodically use a spatula to scrape up the bottom of the bowl to make sure it’s getting adequately worked as well. It usually takes about 10-15 minutes on the lowest KitchenAid speed, but sometimes a little longer.
Keeping the dough well floured before setting it aside to rise is also really important. You want to make sure that you can tip it out to shape later on without too much man-handling, otherwise you’ll lose too much of the rise.
Lastly, a pro-tip for geeks who bake bread in the winter: your server room stays a consistent temperature that’s perfect for allowing dough to rise. If you don’t have a server room, close proximity to desktop towers and game consoles also work well, but make sure you don’t block the fans, and keep the area clean. Nobody wants dust bunnies in their bread. For the non-nerd folk, try in your oven or microwave, or on top of your fridge.