Bread has been a staple in the human diet for at least 6,000 years. Archaeological digs suggest it may have been consumed for at least 10,000 years. Olives have been prized for their flavor and documented health benefits for more than 3,000 years beginning with the ancient Greeks. Both of these foods have flavored lives, culture, religion and language. “Our daily bread” and “offering an olive branch” are two expressions indicating how they have been revered and appreciated for millennia. No evidence documents when their timelines converged and olive bread was first enjoyed, but a marriage of these two fermented foods with colorful and long histories seems natural.
With the increasing popularity of traditional breads, olive bread has become a top seller in the repertoire of many artisan bakers. Typically, it is prepared using a sourdough preferment and Kalamata olives. Consumers who love the pronounced flavor of sourdough and the bitter flavor and astringent sensation of olives line up to purchase this product. But what about those who prefer a milder bread?
The use of a poolish imparts a mild yet complex flavor to the bread. Additionally, it allows bakers who might not have the knowledge, time or facility to maintain a sourdough culture the option of producing fully flavored product. Poolish imparts sweet, wheaty and nutty flavors, which complement rather than amplify the lactic fermentation of olives. Good olive oil enhances the flavor, tenderizes the product and contributes moistness and richness to extend shelf life. The choice of green olives is another characteristic distinguishing this formula from others. Chopping the olives ensures even distribution throughout the bread and product uniformity.
This formula is an easy fit for any production schedule. The primary fermentation is two hours and the final proof is 45 to 60 minutes. Dividing the dough into squares for rolls and loaves or rectangles for sticks reduces bench time as the shaping steps are unnecessary. It is possible to take the bread from the mixer to the oven in about three hours.
Mix the dough according to the directions provided with the formula. After primary fermentation, turn the dough onto a floured work surface. Dust the dough lightly with flour, and gently manipulate it to an even thickness and symmetry. Divide the dough as needed. The rolls and loaves in the photos were scaled accordingly: 4 ozs. (113 g) for rolls; 1 lb., 1.6 ozs. (500 g) for loaves; and 2 lbs., 3.2 ozs. (1 kg) for sticks. Place the dough pieces on couche-lined proofing boards. Place the boards in a 75°F to 78°F, moist, enclosed environment until the dough has increased in size by 65 percent to 75 percent. Bake in a 480°F oven with light steam until the onset of color. Open the vent, and bake to color, about 15 to 18 minutes for rolls and 25 to 28 minutes for loaves and sticks. When the appropriate color is achieved, open the oven doors halfway, and continue to bake for 3 to 5 minutes.
Green olive bread is the perfect complement for Mediterranean dishes, such as seafood and salads. The rolls are ideal for paninis and make a great sandwich based on the popular nicoise salad. The sticks make innovative muffalettas or may be sliced for table service. Another option is to make fougasses. They are fun to make, fun to eat and make an excellent display. Miniature olive fougasses are an ideal accompaniment to appetizers and a great addition to restaurant bread baskets. Brush the fougasses with olive oil, and sprinkle with fleur de sel immediately upon removing from the oven.
A different way of merchandising bread is to sell it by weight. Packaged product can be weighed after baking and priced by the pound. It is traditional to sell six rolls rather than three or four, but it also eliminates the necessity of scaling the bread in production. This frees higher paid, skilled labor for more intensive tasks and places the scaling in the hands of packagers and clerks.
Entice your clientèle with green olive bread. Its lighter flavor and texture appeal to a large and diverse audience. Be the first in your area to make it; it will leave other bakers seeing green.
Mitch Stamm is an associate instructor at Johnson & Wales University, Providence, R.I., where he teaches Principles and Techniques of Bread Making. He is a Certified Executive Pastry Chef with 40 years experience in foodservice. For more information on Johnson & Wales University, visit www.jwu.edu.
Green olive bread
|Bread flour||6||15.5||3.16 kg||100|
|Total appr. wt.||13||15||6.323 kg|
|Method: Dissolve the yeast in the water. In a colder environment, the water temperature should be about 70°F. In a warmer environment, cold water is recommended. Place in a covered container, and ferment until the poolish is ripe, about 15 hours. The poolish is ripe when the surface is slightly domed with crevices and gas bubbles are prominent.|
|Bread flour||15||1.25||6.84 kg||100|
|Olive oil||1||8.64||700 g||10.23|
|Green olives||5||4.64||2.4 kg||35|
|Total appr. wt.||43||9||19.76 kg|
|Method: Pour the water down the sides of the poolish container to loosen it. Pour the poolish into the mixing bowl, and add the yeast. Place the flour, salt, malt and olive oil in the mixer. Using a spiral mixer, mix on low speed until all the ingredients are incorporated, about 3 to 4 minutes. Using a planetary mixer, the mixing time is about 4 to 5 minutes. Evaluate the hydration, and adjust if necessary. Mix on high speed to light gluten development, about 2 minutes if using a spiral mixer. Mixing time on a planetary mixer is about 3 to 4 minutes. The dough should tear when testing for a “window pane.” The desired dough temperature is 75°F to 78°F. Incorporate the olives on low speed. Place the dough in an oiled, covered container and ferment for one hour. Give the dough a stretch and fold, and ferment for another hour.|
|Bread flour||22||0.75||10 kg||100|
|Olive oil||1||8.64||700 g||7|
|Green olives||5||4.64||2.4 kg||24|
|Total appr. wt.||43||9||19.76 kg|