Love Kalamata olives and home made bread? Then this recipe is for you. This will yield about 12-14 loaves of bread. It takes a while to make, but enjoying the fruits of your labor, after the bread is made, is priceless. The fragrance alone is divine. This bread also freezes well (cover about 3 times with plastic wrap). Here we go…….
The Kalamata Olive Bread Recipe
What you will need:
5 pounds all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon each of black pepper, dried oregano, and garlic powder
4 packs of yeast OR 9 teaspoons yeast
6 cups very warm water
1/2 stick unsalted sweet cream butter, melted, to add into dough, AND 1/2 stick unsalted sweet cream butter, melted, to spread on top of bread, during last 10 minutes of cooking
12 ounces of pitted olives (or 2 jars) (slice each olive into 4 pieces, to make sure no pits, or pit pieces, are in them)
3 cookie sheets (you are going to free form loaves to about 6 inches long, to about 3 inches wide, and place on the cookie sheets, or you can use about 12-14 small loaf pans)
non stick spray (to spray your cookie sheets or loaf pans)
long spatula (to carefully remove bread from cookie sheet one by one, and transfer to a cooling area)
very large bowl
Step 1- Putting your ingredients together, and making your dough
In your bowl, place your 5 pounds of flour and salt, pepper, dried oregano, and garlic powder. Mix well with your hands. Make a well, or hole, with your hands, in the middle of the flour. Place your yeast in that well, add your water, and mix well with your hand. Add your olives on the “outside” of your well, and melted butter in your well. Start bringing the dry ingredients into the well and combine everything.
Start kneading your dough until it pulls away from the sides of your bowl, and it is no longer sticky. Don’t worry, if it is too sticky, add a little more flour, and if it is too difficult to knead because it’s stiff, you can add a little water, to soften it up. Your dough should look like this.
Step 2- Letting your dough rise for the first time.
It is now time to “cuddle” or “dress warmly” your dough, to help it rise. Using a sheet, or something with no lint, so it won’t stick to your dough, cover your dough, then place a blanket on top of that sheet and around the bowl. Make sure the area you place your dough is free of drafts. You now are in the first rising state. Your dough should double in size in about 40-60 minutes.
Step 3- Punching it down, forming your loaves, and letting your dough rise a second time
Once your dough rises, punch it down, and knead it for a couple more minutes, and form into 6 inch long loaves, about 3 inches wide, placing the formed dough about 3 inches apart on cookie sheets (you will yield about 12-14 bread loaves). Make a 4 inch slice on top of the bread dough, not going all the way down to the pan, only on top of the bread. It looks nice like that after it bakes. You are now in the second rising state. Your dough should double in size again in about 40-60 minutes. Recover your pans of dough, and let them rise for about 30 minutes. It is now time to preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Step 4- Baking your bread
Okay, you have come to the final step of bread making: the baking. Since all ovens vary, you will need to use your judgement here, once it gets towards the end of the baking process. You are looking for a nice “toasty” color for your breads. Sometimes, you may have to rotate your breads from the back to the front, or switch racks by putting the ones you have on the bottom rack on top, so please use your judgment, if you need to do this. The cooking time is approximately 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, start checking them every 5 minutes. To give you that nice toasty color, during the final 10 minutes (around the 30 minute mark), add melted butter to the outside of your breads using a pastry brush. (Don’t worry about your breads sticking to each other, because they will separate beautifully when you remove them from the sheets to cool).
Step 5- The cooling process
Prepare your area where you will be letting your breads cool, maybe on a counter, covered with a sheet, or on cooling racks. Be careful to not place the hot bread to cool on your wooden table because they will sweat while on a sheet and leave white rings or film on your wooden table. Whichever way you choose to cool your breads, they have to be removed from the pan so that they don’t sweat. Once your breads have cooled, you can store them in the refrigerator for longer shelf life, or in the freezer. You can wrap them in plastic wrap (or aluminum foil), and place a couple in a gallon size freezer bag. Make sure to store them properly, because home made bread can spoil quickly, so please consume refrigerated bread in 2 -3 days. Happy Baking!