Kalamata Olive Bread

Kalamata Olive Bread

I absolutely love kalamata olives as well as bread! So, last weekend being in a bread baking mood I decided to look around on the internet for a bread recipe that has kalamata olives in it. Lo and behold, Panera has their recipe posted right out there for us! Anyway, I decided to give it a try and as you can see from the picture above, it turned out great. We ate it along with my smokey vegetable soup . . . it was a great combo. I adapted their recipe just a tad by reducing the honey from 3 tablespoons to 2 and I forgot to spray the dough with water before putting it in the oven. I think that doing that makes the crust chewier so if that’s how you like yours then give it a try. Oh, and two more things, a cherry pitter works great to pit kalamata olives and an instant read thermometer works great to test the water temperature for the yeast and the temperature of the bread to make sure it is done!!

1 cup warm water (95-105° F)
2 teaspoons fresh yeast
1 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup warm water (95-105° F)
2 tablespoons honey
4 teaspoons fresh yeast
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 3/4 cups kalamata olives, pitted

To create the starter, combine the water and yeast in a medium mixing bowl. Stir to dissolve the yeast fully. Add the flour to the bowl and stir until the ingredients are fully incorporated. Cover with a cloth and ferment the starter at room temperature for 30 minutes. It will get all bubbly and expand.

Yeast Starter

For the dough, combine the water, honey and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir to dissolve the yeast fully. Add the shortening, flour, salt, starter and olives. Mix on low speed until the dough is fully developed and has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. It will still be somewhat tacky. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl. Divide the dough into 2 pieces weighing about 22 ounces each. (Just pull off a piece the size of a large dinner roll and divide what’s left in half) Roll each piece of dough into a smooth ball. Place the dough on the counter or in a proofing basket and cover with a warm, damp cloth to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Form the dough into loaves (I made mine round loaves) and place them in or on your loaf pan or baking sheet. Cover the loaves with a warm, damp cloth and proof at room temperature for another 30 minutes. (I set them on the back of the stove top so they get some heat from the preheating oven since I keep my house on the cool side.)

Score the loaves with a sharp knife, spray with water, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the crusts are a deep golden brown and the middle of the loaves is 190-200 degrees. ( I baked the roll-sized loaf around 20 minutes).

Ready to go in the oven

Remove the bread from the oven and place it on a cooling rack for 30 minutes. If the bread was baked in loaf pans, remove the bread from the pans before cooling.

Makes 2 loaves

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