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How to Make Spicy Olive Bread

Why this recipe works In pursuit of the ideal artisanal sandwich bread, perfect for a piquant Italian salumi sandwich, we turned to olives, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Many olive bread recipes go to great lengths to incorporate the olives without bruising them and staining the dough. We tried many of these techniques and found all of the frustrating shaping to be unnecessary. We simply kneaded our dough as normal and then reduced the mixer speed to low and slowly added the olives. The low-speed mixing was gentle enough that it didn’t beat up the olives’ flesh. We wanted a crust for our olive bread that was crisp and flavorful yet not tough. Baking the bread in the steamy environment of a Dutch oven created an artisan bakery–style crust. Almost any variety of brined or oil-cured olive works in this recipe, although we preferred a mix of green and black. We do not recommend mixing this dough by hand.

  • makes 1 loaf
  • rising time 2 to 3 hours
  • baking time 50 minutes
  • total time 3¾ to 4¾ hours, plus 3 hours cooling time
  • key equipment stand mixer, Dutch oven with lid, instant-read thermometer

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  • ¾ cup pitted olives, rinsed, patted dry, and chopped coarse
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups (16½ ounces) bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1⅓ cups (10⅔ ounces) water, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1). Combine olives and garlic in bowl. Whisk flour, yeast, salt, and pepper flakes together in bowl of stand mixer. Whisk water, sugar, and oil in 4-cup liquid measuring cup until sugar has dissolved. Using dough hook on low speed, slowly add water mixture to flour mixture and mix until cohesive dough starts to form and no dry flour remains, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed.

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2). Increase speed to medium-low and knead until dough is smooth and elastic and clears sides of bowl, about 8 minutes. Reduce speed to low, slowly add olive mixture, ¼ cup at a time, and mix until mostly incorporated, about 1 minute.

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3). Transfer dough and any loose olives to lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds. Place dough seam side down in lightly greased large bowl or container, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size, 1½ to 2 hours.

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4). Press down on dough to deflate. Turn dough out onto lightly floured counter (side of dough that was against bowl should now be facing up). Press and stretch dough into 10-inch round.

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5). Working around circumference of dough, fold edges toward center until ball forms.

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6). Flip dough ball seam side down and, using your cupped hands, drag in small circles on counter until dough feels taut and round and all seams are secured on underside of loaf.

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7). Lay 16 by 12-inch sheet of parchment paper on counter and lightly spray with vegetable oil spray. Transfer loaf seam side down to center of prepared parchment. Using parchment as sling, gently lower dough into Dutch oven. Cover tightly with plastic and let rise until loaf increases in size by about half and dough springs back minimally when poked gently with your knuckle, 30 minutes to 1 hour.

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8). Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Using sharp paring knife or single-edge razor blade, make two 5-inch-long, ½-inch-deep slashes with swift, fluid motion along top of loaf to form cross.

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9). Cover pot, place in oven, and bake loaf for 30 minutes. Remove lid, reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees, and continue to bake until deep golden brown and loaf registers 205 to 210 degrees, 20 to 25 minutes.

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10). Using parchment sling, remove loaf from pot and transfer to wire rack; discard parchment. Let cool completely, about 3 hours, before serving.

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