This simple yet impressive loaf requires no kneading, uses basic tools and ingredients, and tastes wonderful on its own or with a kiss of butter. Jazz it up with additional ingredients or leave as is, either way, the flavor is exquisite.
Before we get started there are few tips to keep in mind:
- Weigh your dry ingredients. Bread is Chemistry and the best way to ensure consistency is with the precision of weighing your dry ingredients.
- Know your oven - if you set it to 450°F, is it actually 450°F? an oven thermometer can help
- Steam! open your oven slowly to avoid getting a blast of hot steam in the face
- If olives aren't your thing - substitute with sun-dried tomatoes
- Timers! use them.
Step 1: Tools
- 2-3 quart mixing bowl or container
- Mixing tool (ie. Danish dough whisk or wooden spoon)
- Measuring spoons & cups
- Broiler pan (use metal, not glass!)
- 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" Loaf Pan
- Food Scale (optional)
- Pastry brush (optional)
Step 2: Ingredients
- 1 cup / 7.7 oz / 220 grams -- Lukewarm water (100°F or lower)
- 1 tsp / 0.14 oz / 4 grams -- Traditional Active dry yeast
- 1 tsp / 0.3 oz / 8 grams -- Kosher salt
- 2 1/4 cups / 10.75 oz / 305 grams -- All Purpose white flour
- Maldon Salt
- 8-10 pitted Kalamata Olives, sliced
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
Jazz it up
- Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 2 tsp Fresh Rosemary, chopped
Step 3: Mixing
- Add yeast and salt to the lukewarm water in your mixing bowl or container. Stir gently for 5 seconds.
- Slowly pour in all of the flour at once. Mix with your dough whisk (or wooden spoon) until completely moist and there are no dry spots. The result is a moist dough that conforms to the shape of your container.
- Cover your bowl or container well but not airtight with a lid* or plastic wrap. Allow to rise at room temperature for approximately 2 hours or until the dough begins to flatten.
Optional (but recommended)
- Refrigerate the dough. After the rise you can immediately work with the dough but it will be very sticky. Refrigerating makes it easier to handle.
*I use a large pot lid
Step 4: Shaping - Flour Is Your Friend
- Coat the bottom and sides of the loaf pan lightly with olive oil
- Pull the dough from the fridge and dust the top and your hands with flour
- Dust your countertop with a generous amount of flour.
- Pull dough out of the bowl and dust again with flour. Shape into a ball by rotating the dough in quarter turns while tucking the top underneath the bottom of your dough ball on each rotation.
- Place ball on flour dusted counter and punch it down in the middle. There are two options to flatten it out. Be sure to use adequate flour to prevent sticking.
- Hand stretch your dough until it's about 1/4" thick and nearly circular OR
- Roll it out with a rolling pin
- Spread olives (Option: sprinkle cheese and rosemary) across the surface. Fold 2.5" of any edge towards the center and proceed to roll the remaining. Pinch the ends shut and tuck them underneath your loaf so it is slightly smaller than your pan. Place in the oiled loaf plan, cover, and let rest 40 minutes (Tip: use a timer*).
- Set oven to 450°F at minute 30 of rest and place broiler pan on bottom rack
- Brush or smooth top with olive oil and sprinkle with Maldon salt flakes while crushing them between your fingers.
Tip - Set two timers, one for the rest and one for preheating your oven at 450° (a 10 minute preheat)
Step 5: Baking - 'Give Me Steam'
- Place the loaf on the middle rack in the center.
- Add 1 cup of hot tap water to the broiler pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a golden brown crust has formed on top.
- Remove from pan and let cool on a rack. Serve warm and enjoy!