Homemade Mediterranean Olive Bread

This bread is marbled throughout with flavorful brine-cured Greek kalamata olives. It goes well with antipasto or carpaccio, or try it toasted, topped with creamy goat cheese and fresh basil, and served with a glass of chardonnay. I have not had good results when substituting other olives for the kalamatas.

The Greek-style California olives lose all of their flavor after being baked in the bread. If the kalamata olives you are using are very salty, reduce the amount of salt in the recipe by 1 to 2 teaspoons.

When making the dough, be sure not to add too much flour. If the dough is too firm, you will find it hard, if not impossible, to incorporate all of the olives––and kalamata olives are too good, and too expensive, to end up burned on the sheet pan next to the loaves.

If you find it difficult to incorporate the olives into the dough, bake the loaves in greased, paper-lined bread pans, to avoid losing the olives. Due to the moisture in the olives, this bread will keep fresh longer than the average loaf.


  • 11⁄2 ounces (40 g) fresh compressed yeast
  • 1 cup (240 ml) warm water
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) granulated sugar 10 ounces (285 g) high-gluten flour
  • 21⁄4 cups (540 ml) warm water
  • 1⁄3 cup (80 ml) olive oil
  • 2 ounces (55 g) granulated sugar 2 tablespoons (30 g) salt
  • 1 pound (455 g) high-gluten flour 1 pound (455 g) bread flour
  • 1 pound 8 ounces (680 g) kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped, or 1 pound 3 ounces (540 g) pitted kalamata olives (23⁄4 cups/660 ml)
  • Olive oil (optional; see Note)


1- Start the pre-dough by dissolving the yeast in the warm water. Add the sugar and high- gluten flour. Knead for about 5 minutes using the dough hook. Let the pre-dough rise in a warm place just until it starts to fall.

2- Add the remaining warm water, olive oil, sugar, salt, high-gluten flour, and all but a hand- ful of the bread flour to the pre-dough. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding the last handful of flour if necessary. Cover the dough and let rise in a warm place until it has dou- bled in volume.

3- Add the olives to the dough and knead by hand just until they are incorporated. Do not mix so long at this step that the olives break up completely and turn the dough an unpleasant gray color. However, the dough should have a slightly marbled look from the olives.

4- This not only enhances the appearance, but also adds to the flavor of the finished bread. Cover the dough and let it rise a second time until it has doubled in bulk.


5- Punch the dough down and divide it into 4 equal pieces, approximately 1 pound 4 ounces (570 g) each. Shape the pieces into oval loaves (see Figure 3-13, page 143). Let the loaves rise until they are 11⁄2 times their original size.

6- Bake at 375°F (190°C), using steam and leaving the damper closed for the first 10 min- utes. Open the damper, lower the heat slightly, and continue to bake approximately 35 minutes longer or until baked through.


Should you prefer not to use steam, or do not have a steam oven, baking this bread in a regular dry-heat oven will produce a very good soft-crust loaf. The baking time will be a little shorter, about 35 minutes. If you use this method, brush the loaves with olive oil immediately after remov- ing them from the oven.

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