Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Whole Wheat Olive Bread ~

Good morning everyone~ I have to admit that time flies whether you're having fun or not! I'm trying to decide whether I'm moving back to Tennessee, and it's one of those things that feels impossible to decide. Of course, the pull of family and familiar places is always there, along with children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren--some great-grandchildren that I've never seen. It sounds like a slam-dunk when I tell you this, but there are other considerations that make me pull back. But I'm sharing this seesaw decision with you, because I know it's having an effect on my life, and that I have days when I'm somewhat overwhelmed by the prospect.

Right now, I'm getting some of my many books out the door, and getting some of my obscure bits and pieces to people who might find a use for them. So with all of that on the table, I'm going to give you a short and sweet recipe for a nice bread. If you remember, I enjoy recipes that have olives in them, so this recipe from Olives: More than 70 Delicious & Healthy Recipes by Avner Laskin will give you a delicious bread that has the extra flavor of black olives in it.
Laskin--who has lived, worked and cooked in the Mediterranean for 20 years--gives some interesting information about olives. He says: "The olive (olea europaca) is a species of small tree native to coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean region and the maritime regions of Asia Minor. The tree is a tough plant and is able to thrive in conditions of soil and climate that would easily kill less hardy plants. In fact, even if you cut down an olive tree, the stump will continue to blossom after the main part of the tree has been severed. The olive tree produces its fruit in the fall months when the weather
in the region begins to cool and the days begin to shorten. The fruit of the olive tree is inedible when first harvested and must be treated to reduce its bitterness and make it palatable. Green olives are unripe olives which are allowed to ferment and pickle in brine or other solutions to make them edible. Black olives are ripe olives which can be pickled but are never allowed to ferment, which is why black olives usually have a milder flavor than their green-skinned siblings. As well as being a staple in Mediterranean cooking, the oil from olives has been used for centuries as lamp oil and in cosmetics, medicines, and soap."

So here is a recipe from Laskin's book, which I hope to try soon--as soon as I can get some black olives. I've never used cold water when making bread, but assume that he's using the instant yeast that doesn't need to be proofed to work. When I make this bread, I'll give you an update--or better yet--you can give me one. Since Laskin is a professional chef, I'm trusting his recipes to be good ones!

Whole Wheat Olive Bread
Serves 4

1 cup cold water                                                                                 
1 tablespoon dried yeast
3 cups whole wheat flour
2/3 cups pitted black olives, drained
1 teaspoon salt
Flour for dusting     

  1. Place the water, yeast, flour, and olives in a mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer with a kneading hook to mix the dough on low speed for 3 minutes.
  2. Add the salt while kneading. Increase the mixing speed and continue to knead for 6 minutes.
  3. Transfer the dough to a floured bowl, cover with a towel, and let stand to rise at room temperature for 1 hour until the dough doubles in size.
  4. When the dough has risen, transfer it to a floured work surface. Form a ball, and then roll the ball into a loaf shape about 12 inches long.
  5. Place the loaf on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkle flour generously over the loaf. Let stand to rise for 1 hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  7. Just before placing the bread in the oven, use a sharp knife to score a line lengthwise across the top of the loaf.
  8. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. The bread is ready when tapping on the bottom produces a hollow sound. Store the bread in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. If you wish to store the bread longer, store it in the freezer in a sealed freezer bag for up to 1 week. To reheat, defrost at room temperature and place in a 400 degree F oven for 6 minutes.
So see if you think this recipe will work for you as it seems to be an easy peasy recipe that you would enjoy baking. There's also a recipe for a white bread with green olives that sounds good, which I may give you tomorrow. Happy baking!

P. S. I made an Italian Olive Bread today with cold water and it was fine. Pictures on my next blog.

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