Pane Alle Olive

It seems that I cannot go more than one week without baking some bread. This was my last enterprise, taken from Hamelman’s bible. I was immediately attracted by the idea of making a loaf loaded with olives. The same dough gives simply amazing olive focaccia. So amazingly good that it did not survive long enough to be photographed.

The method is a little time consuming but, believe me, highly rewarding. There is a discrete amount of whole-wheat in this loaf, too. And it is sourdough-based. Plus, the olives contain plenty of the good fats we all seem to be after lately.

PANE ALLE OLIVE (Hamelman’s olive levain)

You need: 369 g (13 oz) liquid levain*, 369 g (13 oz) water, 648 g (1 lb + 7 oz) bread flour, 91 g (3.2 oz) whole-wheat flour (I used Graham’s),  14 g (0.5 oz) marine salt, 230 g olives, pitted and drained**.

How to: Step 1. Combine the levain with the water, add the rest of the ingredients except the olives and mix on first speed for 3 minutes. Mix for further 3 minutes on second speed. Add the olives and mix on first speed until incorporated (I did that kneading quickly by hand). Step 2. Let rest, covered with plastic wrap, for 2 and 1/2 hours, folding the dough after the first 1 and 1/4 hour. Step 3. Divide the dough: either shape two medium small loaves or 1 loaf and a focaccia. Step 4. If you choose to make a focaccia***, let it rest, covered, for 1 hour. For the loaf (or loaves), after shaping, let rest covered for 1 and 1/2 hour and then “retard” in the fridge for 12 to 18 hours. Step 5. Brush the focaccia with olive oil, make the typical concavities with the tip of your fingers and bake with steam at 230 degrees (Celsius, 450 Fahrenheit) until it looks brown and crunchy on the outside. And the bread? Hamelman does not say, but I baked it for 40 minutes, using steam in the beginning and lowering immediately the temperature from the initial 275 degrees (Celsius, 527 Fahrenheit) to 230 degrees (Celsius, 450 Fahrenheit).

*liquid levain: the night before baking, take out 34 g (1.2 oz) of 100% hydration active sourdough starter and mix with 204 g (7.2 oz) water plus 165 g (5.8 oz) of bread flour. It can be used 12 to 16 hours later.

**draining olives: also the night before baking, drain the olives from their liquid and let rest in a colander in the fridge. In the morning, place in a clean kitchen towel and drain completely.

***shaping a focaccia: place some baking paper on a (not too big) round or square baking plate and flatten the dough gently with your hands (it still has to be quite tall, surely taller than a pizza) directly in the baking plate, being careful not to deflate it.

CONSIDERATIONS: I really loved making this loaf and the olive focaccia. The focaccia goes wonderfully alone, while the loaf is well complemented by soft, mild, cheeses. Guess what was my favorite match? Pane alle olive and mozzarella… yum! Grateful to Hamelman to have made me discover liquid levain. By simply diluting your sourdough the day before mixing the final dough you can obtain an extremely mild sourdough bread. And for those of you who do not like the sour taste: there is no way you could have sensed it in this loaf. Oh… and if you don’t have sourdough starter… would gladly send you mine (and actually can, if you live in Sweden). Otherwise, my post Dirty Laundry and Sourdough Starter will help you to make your own. It lasts forever (still have the culture described in last August’s post) and makes very good bread. Wish you a pleasant week-end.

Submitted to YeastSpotting

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  1. Yummm! Olive bread! I have bread baking on my agenda this weekend so maybe olive bread.

  2. They look amazing… and you read my mind, because I was fancing some olive bread. Have a great week-end :-)

  3. I’ve never had olive bread but the thought of it with mozzarella-YUM! Looks utterly fabulous, Barbara!

    • thank you Veronica. just had a toasted slice with Taleggio cheese. simply amazing… and the note I wrote about persons who do not like sourdough… I was actually thinking of you: there is truly no hint of sour in this bread, no way you could know it’s made with sourdough rather than yeast! will send you some by air mail ;)

  4. I love a good olive bread and yours looks great…what a nice crust.

  5. Just my kind of bread, and so beautiful too! I might have to try a sourdough starter again (I got discourage the first time). In the meantime, I wonder if it would work with a poolish? I might give it a go.

    • hi there Euan! thank you for the nice words. of course it would go with poolish, as you probably know, basically anything sourdough-based can be done with industrial yeast, just adjusting the water percentage. let me know if try it! regarding sourdough… if you read my “dirty laundry and sourdough starter” post, you will see that I also did not suceed on first attempt. but the second try was a hit (and I am stiil keeping alive the culture “born” almost 1 year ago). it is just so fulfilling having something alive at home. it is like having some kind of pet :)

      • A pet… or a husband! Having a sourdough always seems to be like a lifetime commitment. But I will be giving it another go sometime.

  6. Bellissimo questo pane fa venir voglia di mare e vacanze.
    Ciao francesca

  7. As always, I am so impressed with your bread skills. Olives are some of my favorite things, and to have them in bread? YOU ROCK!

  8. The slice of olive bread….wow…I am in awe…really in awe of your professional bread baking skill.

  9. Barbara, your bread looks so wonderfully tasty and rustic that if you hadn’t said you made it yourself from Hamelman’s book I would have thought it came from a village baker in Italy. What kind of olives did you use? Oil-cured or kalamata? Whatever they are, they look perfect!

    • Barbara says:

      Hi MC, thank you so much for the visit and for all the positive feedback.
      I used halved and pitted kalamata olives. it was a little tricky to fold them in (they were so many!) but in the end it worked just fine.
      guess the merit of my rustic looking loaves is a combination of my own inclination toward country bread and the work of my old, not well functioning, oven which always delivers a wonderful crust.

  10. I agree, this olive bread is gorgeous. I’m especially taken by the one slice pic. It begs to be picked up and devoured.

  11. I think I’ll try this,Beautiful.


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  3. [...] recently fell in love with Hamelman’s liquid levain (see Pane Alle Olive), the starting point for this loaf. Which, since I live South (Söder) of Stockholm, is going to [...]

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