I generally avoid overly fussy recipes because they are, well… overly fussy. Sourdough is not fussy. Really. Trust me.
As much as I love the look of all those artisanal loaves of sourdough, with the crunchy and perfectly slashed crusts, I don’t love the amount of fussing I have to do to achieve that look (see the above paragraph). In other words, I’m really bad at it and don’t care enough to get better. My brain starts to get foggy when people start talking about percent hydration. I’m actually really good at math, but I’m a bit impatient and just want to get the job done without having to think too much about it.
For me, my sourdough starter is a source of yeast and flavor for the breads that I bake. The bread (and so many other things) that I make from it is for eating, not just being looked at. It’s our bread for sandwiches, toast, soaking up the juices from roasts, dunked into soups, etc. However, my favorite way to enjoy a slice of sourdough bread is to dip it into a puddle of golden-green extra virgin olive oil.
Now, olive oil can dress up any bread, but a few staples in a typical Greek kitchen will take the flavor up several notches. In this case I’m referring to Kalamata olives, garlic, and fresh rosemary (of course!). Baked together in a tangy loaf of sourdough, their flavors meld in the most scrumptious of ways, and the aroma will make you swoon. Dunk a slice in that puddle of olive oil, and you just about have yourself a meal.
Some quick notes before you begin:
I have a couple of methods for making a sourdough starter if you don’t already have one. I use a no-waste process for my starter that will save you resources and time. Remember how I don’t like fussy? Click here for the traditional method, and here for the “fast” version.
Even if you have your own starter, you should check out my process in order to be sure you are using one that has a similar level of moisture as mine.
The dough will be a little “wet” at first, but shouldn’t stick to clean and dry hands. Don’t be tempted to add too much more flour or the loaf will be stiff and dry. As it sits, the flour will absorb more of the water and the loaf will be less sticky.
If your olives aren’t already pitted, the pits can be easily removed by gently smashing the olives with the broad side of a large knife. This loosens the olive flesh from the pits and they just pop right out. (It’s also super easy to make your own!)
I braid the dough for a nice appearance, but it’s not necessary. There is a benefit, though, as it will help keep the dough from flattening out too much during the rise. Braiding isn’t fussy, otherwise I wouldn’t do it!
Kalamata Olive & Rosemary Sourdough Bread Recipe
- 4 cups bread flour + up to 1/4 cup more
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 Tbsp. salt
- 1 1/2 cups luke-warm water
- 1 cup “fed” starter
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup packed sliced Kalamata olives
- 2 Tbsp. finely chopped garlic
- 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
Measure the flour by fluffing it up with a whisk and gently scooping it into the measuring cup. Put the flours and salt into a medium bowl, and stir together until combined.
In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, put the rest of the ingredients and stir together. Add the flour and knead together for several minutes until the dough comes together. If the dough is very sticky add in the additional bread flour and combine. The dough will be on the wetter side, but should not stick to clean, dry hands.
Allow the dough to sit for 20 minutes, then knead a few more minutes. Divide the dough into three equal sized pieces. Form long, equal length ropes from each one (about 18 inches long) and braid them together. See my post for making tsoureki (Greek Easter bread) for a video on how to braid the loaf. Place the braid on a parchment paper lined baking tray.
Baste the dough with a little olive oil, cover with a clean towel (choose something that won’t leave lint). Set the loaf somewhere to rise that is warm and draft free, like an oven with the light on. Allow the dough to rise until about double in size. This will take at least two to three hours, maybe more, depending on the conditions in your kitchen.
When the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 425 F (make sure the bread isn’t in there already!). Baste the dough with oil again, and sprinkle lightly with salt. Once the oven has heated, place the baking sheet in and bake for 25 minutes. The loaf should be light golden brown and the crust should be firm.
Remove the bread from the pan and let cool completely on a rack. Don’t cut it before hand or you’ll let too much moisture escape and your loaf will get dry. This tastes great on its own, but by all means, eat it however you’d like! Kali Orexi! (Good Appetite!)