Let’s talk bread, Olive & Thyme Bread to be exact. First, I need to share that I have spent the better part of this pandemic mothering a sourdough starter. Two, actually. The first one died a slow and painful death. It seems that I have the same knack for taking care of starters as I do plants. I’m happy to report that the second one is alive and kicking!
When I decided to take a break from sourdough and venture back to more familiar yeast bread territory, I came across this @sallysbakingaddiction recipe. This is the real deal, and it is EASY. If you’re also a sourdough mama or papa, and you have a lot of discarded starter, this is a great recipe to add some of that discard to (see Notes below). If not, then just follow the recipe as is. The dough comes together by hand in less than 5 minutes, then it just needs a couple of hours to sit at room temperature, before a long, overnight rest in the fridge. Easy peasy, right? Bonus - this recipe makes 2 loaves, keep one and give one to another bread lover, or keep them both for yourself - we won’t tell! xoxo Kirsty
3-1/4 cups (420g) bread flour (all purpose flour works too)*see Notes below
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/4 cup (45g) olives, roughly chopped
4 sprigs of thyme, leaves only and chopped
1-1/2 cups (360ml) cool water
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, yeast, and salt. Add the olives and thyme, combine. Then add the water and gently mix together with a rubber spatula. The dough will be shaggy, but keep working it until all the flour is incorporated. Shape into a ball as best you can.
Cover the bowl and leave to rest at room temperature for 2-3 hours. The dough should double in size, stick to the sides of the bowl, and have a lot of air bubbles.
You CAN bake it right away, but for the best flavor and texture, we suggest you allow the dough to rest in the fridge for at least 12 hours, and up to 3 days. The longer the rest, the better the flavor.
Dust a large nonstick baking sheet (make sure it’s non-stick as it really will stick!) with flour. Turn the cold dough out onto a floured work surface. Cut dough in half. Some air bubbles will deflate as you work with it, don’t worry, this is ok! Place dough halves on floured baking sheet. Using floured hands, shape into 2 long loaves approximately 9”×3” (23x8cm) each about 3 inches (8cm) apart. Loosely cover and allow to rest for 45 minutes. You will bake the dough on this prepared baking sheet.
During this 45 minute rest time, preheat the oven to 475°F (245°C).
When ready to bake, use a very sharp knife to score the loaves with 3 slashes, about 1/2 inch deep. If the shaped loaves flattened out during the 45 minutes, use floured hands to narrow them out along the sides again.
*For a crispier crust: After the oven is preheated, place a shallow baking pan or skillet on the bottom oven rack. Carefully pour 3-4 cups of boiling water into it. Place the baking sheet with the loaves on it on a higher rack and quickly shut the oven, trapping the steam inside. The steam helps create a crispier crust.
Place the shaped loaves in the preheated oven on the center rack. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Gently tap the loaves– if they sound hollow, the bread is done.
Remove the bread from the oven and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Store leftovers loosely covered at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
Sally recommends bread flour but I have been using all-purpose as that’s all I had. I’ve also mixed it 75% white; 25% wheat or spelt with great results.
If you have sourdough discard that you’d like to use, replace about 1/4 cup (40g) of flour with the same amount of discard. Also reduce the water by the same amount. If the dough seems too sticky or too dry, just add a tablespoon of flour or water until it’s tacky, but doesn’t stick to you fingers like glue.
Recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction - Homemade Artisan Bread