Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Olive bread

Huh. I realized I made baklava this month, too. Guess April is Greek month here.

So this Greek restaurant near my workplace has great olive bread. I've never had olive bread before -- I don't even particularly like olives -- but I loved this stuff. It had a nice thick crust, dusted with salt, and a good soft chewy center. The olives added a different layer of flavor.

And lo! I found an olive bread recipe in my Williams-Sonoma baking book. I modified it a little bit (an extra knead, less flour, and some more salt), with good results.

The first knead was sans salt and olives. I find that cookbooks never tell you to knead bread dough enough. The more you knead, the better. That's where the bread consistency comes from -- the kneading relaxes the gluten in the wheat and creates the chewy texture. Otherwise, you'd be making a cake. And! Cookbooks always tell you to add salt immediately into the dough -- which is not a good idea, since salt inhibits the yeast.

Here's me, kneading the dough. This is the second knead, just after I added the Kalamata olives and a bit of sea salt.

Then, I let the dough rise some more. Then, there was a little bit MORE kneading. I shaped the dough into a free-form loaf and let it rise some more on the baking sheet. After that final rise, I dusted the top with flour, coarse sea salt, and cut a slash into the top of the dough. (The cut helps the crust to develop by giving the dough room to expand.)

After baking:

Pretty no?

What it looks like inside:

How does it taste? Oh my GOD. It was so great. Don't need anything else -- except maybe a nice thick stew for dunking the bread. This turned out exactly like the restaurant's. I could eat this stuff all day long, no joke.

1 comment:

Abby said...

I'm so intimidated by baking bread - I rarely have any of mine turn out well. You make it look and sound so easy! I'd love a warm piece of your olive bread right now!