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Olive Bread

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
This olive bread could be called olive-cheese-garlic-herb bread but the mouthful ought to be saved for the bread and not the title. It’s comparatively tender for a bread of this type, suitable for sandwiches, toasting and as a bread-basket bread. The riccota (or requesón) helps to achieve the tenderness, and in combination with the Parmesan (or cotija) supplies the tang.

For those that have been following the Cook Food Good blog, this is the recipe discussed in Part III, http://www.cheftalk.com/forums/blogs...ts-iii-iv.html

If you can get requesón and cotija, please try that version. It's even better.


1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
6 cups AP flour, or 50/50 Bread/Ap
2 tbs instant yeast
1 tbs kosher salt
1-1/2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
(Optional) 1 tsp red pepper flakes, or coarse, freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp dried oregano, crumbled
1/4 tsp dried thyme, crumbled
12 oz ricotta (preferably whole milk) or requesón cheese
3 - 4 tbs grated Parmesan cheese or cotija
3/4 cup coarsely chopped, black olives
3/4 cup coarsely chopped, pimento stuffed green olives (martini olives)
3 cups water, divided
1 - 2 cups flour, reserved

Heat the olive oil in a small pan over a medium flame, and add the garlic. Fry for a minute, turn off the flame, and allow the garlic to coast to light golden brown as the oil cools.

Meanwhile, add all of the ingredients to your mixing bowl except for the garlic in oil, the water, and the reserved flour.

Stir with a fork to get a rough mix. Then add 2-1/2 cups of water, and the garlic and its oil. Water first in case the oil is hot enough to hurt the yeast.) Mix and try to form a ball of dough. This is probably enough water for the ricotta version, but probably not enough for requesón. (The requesón clumps, and it’s moisture is not as accessible to the dough until it’s kneaded. If using requesón, you’ll need more water to get the bread to come together .)

Begin to knead in the usual way. As with other curd-cheese doughs, moisture will be released during the kneading and for that reason you will probably use a significant amount of the reserved flour to keep the dough workable. Knead to the window pane stage. (About 10 minutes hand kneading for me, 8 or 9 minutes in a KA.)

Form the dough into a tight ball, by "pulling down." Oil the dough with extra virgin olive oil, and let it rise, covered with cling wrap, in a well oiled bowl. Allow to double – about 55 minutes. Punch down. Allow to double again (about 45 minutes). Form 2 loaves as ciabattas, batards, or boules. Allow to rise to proof to about 1-1/2 times volume (reserving the rest of the rise for “oven spring;” about 30 minutes). Slash the loaves and bake in a 425 deg oven approx 35 minutes until browned and the loaves sound hollow when thumped.

Please let me know if you do or don't like the recipe, about any issues you have, and/or any improvements you think should be made.

As always, if you repost the recipe or share it with someone else please attribute it to me, Boar D. Laze. I'd really appreciate it if you could mention my eventual book: COOK FOOD GOOD: American Cooking and Technique for Beginners and Amateurs

Thanks for listening,

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post #2 of 7
Just on niggly question, are we to chop the green olives or leave whole?
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Oops. Very rough chop. I'll correct the recipe. They're going to get broken up a lot during the knead. Ideally you'll see pieces of green and black olives in the crumb, as well as pimento.

Re the knead; Unfortunately with all the cheese this bread can't autolyze. I was planning on doing an orange/walnut wheat bread next, but might do a pain sur poolish to take advantage of "no knead" bread rising, plus teach some loaf forming skills. What do you think?

post #4 of 7
Can you guess who made a shopping list and made a ricotta run after her last post this afternoon?

Alright, first off: divine!!!!!!! But I knew I would love it just by looking at the recipe.

I used ricotta and parm; we don’t have access to the Mexican versions down here. I used the fresh cracked pepper instead of the red pepper flakes (my palate singes easily).

I kneaded by hand (I’m usually very lazy and use the KA, but I’ve begun to notice a little bobble in my biceps and figured I could use the exercise.) The dough took all of the reserved flour and some more. The reason for that is probably two fold: #1, I eyeballed the ricotta out of a 16 ounce container and was probably a little heavy handed. #2 it is so humid here my windows have been sweating for two days.

I made two boules which I slashed, nothing fancy just three quick ones on each loaf

A little side note, I am not remotely fond of rosemary. I usually avoid it like the plague and find it ironic that I inherited a veritable hedge of it when we moved into this house. But I didn’t dare take liberties, so I used it. Man, glad I did, this is like the perfect blend of herbs and spices with the olives. You rock.

Hubby likes it too, as it is not as salty as the olive bread I usually make and the three year old liked it too, he’s my little olive eater.

I am personally responsible for the demise of ½ a loaf so far (and these are not ity loaves, burp). With the remaining loaf, if it is still there tomorrow, I plan on making sandwiches for lunch. I shall report back then.
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Your measurements were probably pretty good. The humidity -- maybe. Presumably you're only adding enough water to get it to come together. So it would seem you're just squeezing a lot of water out of the cheese as you go. You really notice it when you knead by hand -- a lot more than you would mixing and kneading in a KA. I suppose that's because the KA smacks some moisture out of the cheese during the mixing process and you can get it to come together with the minimum amount of water hydration. "Water hydration" seems redundant, but I mean that in terms of the extra water added to get the dry ingredients to form a dough, before smacking the liquid out of the curds.

Funky moisture is one of the reasons I like to knead by hand until I have some idea of how a recipe I just wrote works. I've noticed since I broke my KA (and haven't got around to taking it in even though the KA service place is only 20 minutes from here), that my hand kneaded bread has a better texture than the KA kneads. I'm not sure why, since I always finish kneading by hand even if I start in the KA.

We're really thrilled with the bread, too. The first couple of bakings disappeared really quickly. So far I've baked ciabattas and big batards. Next time boules.

I owe you a lot of thanks for asking if the cheese technique would work for olive bread. It most indeedy do.

post #6 of 7
Thoughts on the hand vs machine kneading:

You finish kneading by hand either way, so probably the initial kneading makes the difference, is my guess(?)

An observation from my own kneading experience, not with bread but making pasta with a hand-cranked machine: being too hard (speed or how much you are compressing) on the dough at the first part of kneading seems to break up the dough more than building it. When I can tell it can take the pressure, I give it more. I finish by feel, where the dough is well kneaded, and if pushed any more, would start breaking up.

Bread dough is of course not the same as pasta dough, but I'm sure there is some similarity.

I'd bet you know how to knead the bread better than the machine does. I'd bet you not only push the dough, but feel it too, whether consciously or not. Action->feedback->adjusted action.
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

Interesting thoughts and pretty much right on. The biggest difference in hand and machine kneading is feeling the moisture and stiffness levels from the beginning -- which lends a little more control. The machine has enough power (and patience) to just keep on kneading until everything comes together, even if a little bit of this or that would make a difference down the line.

Hand kneading at the end, is all about timing. Most breads you want to just pass the "windowpane" test -- if you keep kneading, which is easy to do in a machine, it's easy to over-knead (which will hurt texture), and also to get too much heat into the dough. A final reason is for the baker to finish the knead by "pulling the dough down" a few times. This develops a tighter surface, which helps with loaf formation down the line.

Your pasta rolling analogy is especially apt when it comes to overworking the dough. And yes, it's all about touch -- which in turn is all about enjoying what you're doing enough to pay attention to it when it speaks to you.

It may not be apparent in all my recipes but I'm "all about" teaching the cook good habits and control, as opposed to giving recipes which can be followed mechanically. If you get a good recipe from me, fine. I'm happy. But if you learn how to cook, I'm ecstatic.

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