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Did you know Mike sends out a newsletter (almost) every week? It's filled with news about bread or whatever Mike is excited about this time. It's "Mike's (more or less) Weekly Baking Tips"!

Sourdough Olive Bread

I always say, if you're gonna steal something, steal the best. This bread is Sourdough Olive Bread absolutely delightful when it's fresh, so don't let it sit around long (not that there's much danger of that!) This was stolen from Marcella Tracey Peek, a regular in the rec.food.sourdough newsgroup. She wasn't sure if it would work without added bakers yeast. It will, and beautifully.

This recipe makes 2 nice sized loaves.
This recipe uses a mixer, and is a full load for a K45 or K5 class KitchenAid. (Or - don't double it in your KitchenAid!)
This recipe takes about a day, if your starter is active and ready.

Marcella's recipe follows:

My husband and I took a bread-baking class recently. This was our favorite A closeup of the crumb - yum! recipe out of those we made in class. It does use fresh yeast in addition to the starter, but I'm sure you could adjust to avoid that if desired. (Mike's note: no problem, just say "no!" To make this easier, I removed the references to the yeast.)

Sourdough Olive Bread

14 oz. cold water
10 oz sourdough starter
1 lb. 10 oz. bread flour
1 T. fine sea salt
1 1/2 C pitted Kalamata olives (I prefer them chopped)
2 t. chili flakes (Mike says, "I use chili pequin flakes")
2 T. chopped fresh rosemary

Combine water and starter in mixing bowl and mix to break up starter. Add flour and water until mix comes together but does not clear sides of bowl (4-5 minutes). Cover dough with plastic wrap and let sit 20 minutes.

Remove wrap and add the salt. Mix well on low speed for 2 minutes. Turn mixer The dough, with olives, rosemary, and chili peppers speed to medium and mix 6-8 minutes more until dough snaps back quickly. (Dough temperature should be between 68-74 degrees F). Add in remaining ingredients to blend. (Some people think the chili pepper and rosemary are optional. I think they are an essential part of the flavor balance of the bread. Even if you're a total wuss when it comes to spicy foods, give the chili pepper and rosemary a try.)

Cover dough and let ferment at room temperature until not quite doubled. Punch dough down, divide in half, and shape gently into two balls. Cover and let rest 10 minutes. Form into rounds, or batards and place on a cornmeal dusted baking sheet (or use willow baskets) and cover loosely with greased plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator and chill 12-18 hours.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Let bread dough come to room temperature - 2 to 3 hours. Uncover loaf, remove from baskets if using and slash a decorative pattern on top. Spray oven with water and close door quickly. Open door and place bread inside and spray again. Let bake 3 minutes and spray again. Repeat spraying 2 more times then let bread bake for 10 minutes undisturbed. Lower oven temperature to 400 degrees F. and bake until deep golden brown and loaf temperature registers 190 degrees F. (Please note, that temperature is for my kitchen at 7,703 feet above sea level. Below 5,000 feet, I'd shoot for 205F. We do have more information about cooking with an altitude if you need, or want, to understand what's going on here.)

Thanks Marcella!

A while back I noticed my local baker sells an olive loaf. I tried it, and quickly found mine was MUCH better. When I made the bread this past weekend, it dawned on me that I was spending more on the olives than he charged for his loaf of bread. Sometimes, we forget how easy it is for home bakers to out-do many professionals. It's also easy to forget why we out-do them. In the time we lavish on two loaves, the professional has to turn out hundreds of loaves.... and money is another issue.

We all have an innate desire to save money. So, I thought I'd save a couple of bucks by getting plain California black olives instead of the much more expensive Kalamata olives. If you'd never had the bread with the Kalamata olives, you'd have been delighted with the bread. But, the Kalamata olives added a depth of color and - more importantly - taste that the plain black olives didn't begin to approach. With the black olives we said, "nice bread". With the Kalamata olives, our toes curled with delight. So.... feel free to cut corners, but remember, the corner you are cutting is likely to be your delight.