When I was pregnant with my middle child, there were few foods that I got a lot of satisfaction out of eating. Most of the time, just the mere thought of food would make me queasy for the greater part of the day. Other times, my head was helplessly wrapped around the notion of eating kalmata olives. The tangy, briney nuggets of deliciousness would call my name until I could, at last, consume them.
Fortunately enough, at this point in time I had never heard of kalmata olive bread. Oh, I tell you, that would have been the end of me.
About six months ago, our local super market had been touting its artisan breads on the radio. Or maybe it was the news paper? Any how, I went in to check out the selection, and what lay before me with a light shining down upon it from heaven above, was a singular loaf of kalmata olive bread. I bought it. I took it home. I ate it, and I didn't share.
After a while (like this week) it dawned on me that I could be making this bread at home. Duh. So, that's what I did:
Kalmata Olive & Dill Bread
Adapted from Panera Bread
For the starter:
1 c. warm water (about 100 F)
2 tsp. fresh yeast
1 c. whole wheat flour
Combine the above ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Briskly stir with a wire whisk to incorporate and fully dissolve yeast. Cover with a towel and let rest in a warm area for 30 minutes.
For the dough:
3 T light brown sugar
4 tsp. fresh yeast
1/4 c. + 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 T salt
1.5 T dried dill (rosemary would work equally as well)
2/3 c. warm water (about 100 F)
(1) 9.5oz. jar of pitted kalmata olives, thoroughly drained, roughly chopped
4.75 c. unbleached AP flour
In a large mixing bowl, add yeast, brown sugar and warm water. Stir vigorously with a wire whisk to dissolve yeast. Once dissolved, add olive oil, salt, dill, starter, and about half the flour. Mix until evenly combined. Add in remaining flour and olives. I like to work this with my hands, but you can use a mixer if that is what you prefer. Work the dough until it no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl and is evenly moistened. The dough will be soft and pliable, but not sticky.
Divide the dough in half. Form each half into a smooth ball. Place the dough onto a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Cover loaves with a warm damp cloth. Let them rest in a warm draft-free place for 30 minutes.
Gently form the loaves into an oblong shape about the thickness of a baguette. Place them back on the cookie sheet, and again, cover with a warm damp towel and leave to rest in a warm draft-free area for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 400 F.
Score the loaves with a sharp bread knife, mist with water, bake for 30-40 minutes. You want the crust to be a rich golden color.
Remove the bread from the oven when ready, and cool before slicing.