I LOVE bread. I could easily make a meal out of nothing but bread, with some butter, and of course, don’t forget the wine. It doesn’t matter what kind of bread either. Bread and butter are staples in my life, for sure. I have grown to really enjoying baking breads too, which is both good and bad. I love making all different kinds of breads, with my favorites being the old world, rustic varieties. Bread is the food of life and has been since the beginning of time, however, bread, and its counterpart butter, are also a major contributor to my ever-growing waistline. But you know what, I am at that stage in my life that I can honestly say “who cares”. Marie Antoinette may have said “let them eat cake”, but I say “let them eat bread”.
The month of February is going down as one of the snowiest in Colorado’s history of recording the snowfalls. This month alone has already dropped over 10-12 inches more than normal, with more on the way. This is the perfect weather for the oven to be on and to roast and bake, which also makes it the perfect time to make a lot of breads too. My latest batch of bread was olive bread. This recipe made 2 round loaves. We have been feasting our way through one loaf and the other one is in the freezer for another time. I just hope I have enough butter. 🙂
This bread is so good and only requires a few everyday ingredients.
Tuscan Olive Bread
2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
2 cups warm water
1 TBSP olive oil + more for the bowl
1 1/4 tsp salt
3-3 1/2 cups flour
1 cup chopped olives – I used kalamata this time, but you can use any kind you like, or a combination of different kinds
Mix the yeast and water together and let stand for about 5 minutes, or until the yeast is frothy. Then whisk in the olive oil. Mix all the dry ingredients together thoroughly.
Make a well in the center of the flour and pour the yeast mixture in. Start folding the yeast mixture into the flour. When the mixture is stiff enough to start forming a dough, pour it on to a lightly floured surface and start to knead the dough until it is an elastic and soft dough. Add more flour as needed. You can also mix it together with a mixer, using a dough hook. I have a dough hook for my mixer that I use quite frequently, but I prefer to knead it by hand. I find it very relaxing. if kneading it by hand, it will take about 20 minutes.
Once the dough is at the right consistency, press the olives into it and form it into a ball.
When the dough is formed, rub a large bowl with olive oil. Then rub the dough ball with olive oil too, to help prevent it from drying out. Cover it with a towel and let it rise in a warm place for 1-1 1/2 hours or until the dough ball doubles in size.
Once the dough has risen, punch it down and divide into two equal sized balls, dust with flour, and place it on a lightly greased pan, then cover it and let it rise again for one more hour.
Preheat the oven to 400* F .
After the second rise, place the dough in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until it is golden brown and hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Let the bread cool for at least about 10 minutes before slicing. Slather it up with either butter or olive oil and let the feasting begin.