Dill+Olive Bread

Olive-and-Dill Bread

This recipe emerged from a) having a lot of fresh dill that is about to bolt, b) loving the texture and taste of rosemary-olive bread (recipe here: https://drkyre.com/2020/05/rosemary-bread), PLUS c) finding a jar of black Kalamata olives in the fridge!  The base recipe is from Olive magazine in the UK (unknown to me;  it turned up on a Google search).  I have fiddled with the proportions a little bit and also added 100g levain and overnight fermentation for a more interesting flavor.  Here is the link to the original recipe if you’d like to try some of it (or their other recipes, because there are heaps): https://www.olivemagazine.com/recipes/olive-bread/

This recipe takes 4-5 hours, start to finish, and it makes two boules or one large bâtard.

Note: Correct proportions are crucial in making bread successfully; that’s why all measurements are in grams. Use an electronic scale that uses grams and ounces, and reset before adding the next ingredient.

Levain ingredients

50g all-purpose flour
50g room-temperature (70°F) water
28g (1/8 cup) ripe (fed) sourdough starter

Dough ingredients

100g levain (one portion of the levain above)
400g unbleached all-purpose flour
100g dark rye flour
4g (1 tsp) instant yeast
300g water, 75°F to 80°F (about 25°C); have more on hand if required to soak up the flour
10g salt
100g sliced, pitted black olives – preserved in oil, not those flavorless tinned ones in water
A good handful of fresh dill, stripped of the stalks; otherwise, use sage, rosemary, or chives


Note: Like most bread bakers, I keep a levain going in the fridge all the time, feeding it every day with a mixture of 50g flour and 50g water. To make a levain from scratch, beat together the levain ingredients above to make sure it’s aerated; add more water if necessary to make a paste. [If you don’t have a sourdough starter to hand, add 1g dried yeast.] Cover the levain and allow it to ferment overnight at room temperature (65-75°F, 25°C). It should take the levain about 12 hours to mature. The mature levain will have doubled in size and be bubbly on top, or just beginning to sink in the middle.

1.   An hour before starting, feed levain as follows: remove levain from refrigerator and add equal parts flour and room temperature water (I use about 50 g each, which replenishes the 100g I’ll be using in the bread). Stir/whip well, incorporating oxygen, and leave on the countertop, with the cover slightly ajar. The levain should be bubbling and lively when you begin your bread.

2.   Place a large bowl on your scale and zero out the scale. Now add the flours, one at a time, zeroing out the scale after each addition. Separately weigh and add the salt. Add 100g of your levain, a teaspoon of instant yeast, the chopped olives, and the dill. Then add the tepid water, slowly and carefully.

3.   Mix thoroughly with a wet hand until the dough is homogeneous. Use a power mixer if you like – usually 30 seconds is enough. If necessary, add more water, one Tbsp at a time, making sure to incorporate the flour at the bottom of the bowl. Spray some plastic wrap with oil, press it onto the dough, and leave the dough to rest (autolyse) for 20-25 minutes.

4.   Sprinkle your work surface lightly with either flour. When the dough is soft, knead by hand for 5-7 minutes until the dough is elastic and smooth, and it doesn’t pick up more flour.

5.   Clean out and dry the mixing bowl (without soap), mist with vegetable oil spray, and replace the dough. Press the oiled plastic wrap back onto the dough. Ferment at room temperature (68 -72 degrees is ideal) for two hours, until dough has doubled in size – or put it in the fridge to ferment overnight.

6.   Using your hand or a flexible pastry scraper, remove the dough to a floured countertop. Gently fold in thirds lengthways to form a bâtard (elongated oval shape), or into thirds, then turn and fold into thirds the other way, tucking in the corners to make a boule (or two boules). Try not to press out the gas bubbles or fuss with it too much.

7.   Transfer to a couche (stiff linen proofing cloth) or onto a piece of baking parchment supported on each side with rolled tea towels. (For boules, I place the dough in a round bowl.) Cover with same piece of plastic wrap and set aside to proof, 1½ to 2 hours. While dough is proofing, place a baking stone in lower third of oven, and an old cast iron skillet or heavy pan on the bottom shelf.

8.   After about an hour, it should have increased in volume by about half, and feel springy. Transfer the loaf to a peel or flexible cutting board flour (I use baking parchment, and slide it onto the cutting board, and from there onto the baking stone.) Sprinkle the top of the loaf with rye or rice flour if you want that country “dusted” look.

9.   Half an hour before proofing is complete, preheat the oven to its highest setting, usually 500°F (260°C). Boil a kettle.

10.   Slash each loaf down the middle with your lame or razor. Immediately slide the loaf (including paper, if using parchment) onto your preheated baking stone and, wearing an oven mitt, add 1 cup water to skillet. Try to minimize the time the oven door is open: you want the steam to stay in the oven!

11.   Reduce oven temperature to 450°F (230°C). Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the loaves have turned brown, register 210°F with an instant-read thermometer, or until tapping on the bottom produces a hollow, drum-like sound.

12.   Remove bread to a rack and cool for at least an hour before serving.

This loaf keeps well at room temperature in a loose plastic bag, cut side down; it’s especially good for sandwiches or with a bit of soft cheese like brie or camembert. Once it’s fully cooled, I usually slice the whole loaf, keep out four slices for immediate needs, and freeze the rest in ZipLok bags containing 6-8 slices.

Here is the printable .pdf file Olive+Dill Bread.