Wednesday, March 30, 2011

NO-KNEAD OLIVE BREAD

A PICKLE A SCHMICKLE: IT’S ALL A MATTER OF TASTE

Except the vine, there is no plant which bears a fruit of as great importance as the olive.
- Pliny


It must have been our Eastern European Jewish culture, but we were an olive and pickle-loving family. Our refrigerator was always overflowing with glass jars chock full of briny things of every type and kind: olives green and black, thick, crunchy slices of green tomatoes, chilly, crispy sour kraut, spicy hot peppers and tiny cocktail onions. And the pickles! Half-sour, dill, tiny sweet gherkins and those crinkle-cut hamburger slices, just sweet enough with that sour afterbite. Chips, slices, wedges, spears, halves, whole and even relish, we just couldn’t get enough, or so it seemed. Scoops of olives eaten like candy graced the dinner table, or the perfect buffet item, each glistening orb of lusciousness graced with its own toothpick, olives with the pit still in that one had to nibble around with the front teeth like little chipmunks, or olives pitted and stuffed with bright red pimento, the best to accompany a favorite sandwich. The occasional and much-anticipated trip to Miami to visit our Uncle Eli would always include lunch at Wolfie’s where he worked for a while, or those summer vacations in New York to visit mom’s family would invariably find us for at least one meal at some Kosher deli. And what stays in the memory more than any other about these wonderful trips to these bastions of Eastern European Jewish cooking? The tiny aluminum or fluted white ceramic bowl in the center of every table full to overflowing with a choice selection of pickles and olives, an unlimited supply ours for the asking!


Riding high on the briny wave of olive and pickle love, I joined lives and began a brand new culinary adventure with a Frenchman who brought with him into our union jars upon jars of tiny, slim, crispy French cornichons of deep forest green, just two tiny bites needed to finish each off. I fell in love with these sharp, luscious pickles, served and eaten so simply with slices of fresh baguette topped with butter or pâté. Grab the red plastic ring and pull and up will come a dozen or so oblong cornichons on a tray, yours for the picking. And if you are so lucky, grab one tiny, perfectly round, pearly white orb of an onion nestled amongst the green and *crunch* savor the sharpness in one lip-puckering bite. Later on we will, together, hand in hand, discover and bring home big, fat jars of big, fat Malossols à la Russe or espy and partake of the huge barrel hidden behind the counter at Joe Goldenberg’s Jewish delicatessen in Paris where one must know to ask for the fabulous plump kosher dills floating lazily in the brine.

And olives! Our own Mercato Wagner in the center of Milan boasted The Olive Man, a handsome vendor with movie star looks who would wield his ladle at our bidding and scoop down into the trays or bins of whatever we were in the mood for that day. Standing close to the chilly glass case, nose practically pressed up against the pane, we would ogle, ponder, hesitate as we tried to decide between all of the flavors offered. And it was here that I discovered and fell madly in love with Olive Dolce, known in France as Olive Lucque, beautiful cured green sweet olives rather than salty or sour.


And the next generation, inheriting our own tastes yet forming their own briny habit, grew to love the pungent, salty, snappy flavors of these bite-sized treats! More olive than pickle men, our sons grew up eating bowl after bowl of the green, black, brown and violet, salty, spicy, tangy, marinated in lemon or basil, garlic or hot peppers, stuffed with pimento, almonds, anchovies (okay, only I love the anchovy-stuffed olives), on pizza or in tagines, they can never get enough! Trips to the grocery store find our basket filled with jars upon jars of them, excursions to the market and we haggle with each other over our choice as we stand patiently in line, often compromising by selecting two different type olives. And maybe a barquette of olive tapenade. And some marinated baby artichokes. You see my point? But let those boys make their own lunch or dinner, grilled cheese or peanut butter sandwich, breaded chicken cutlet or a juicy beef burger, and that jar or plastic sachet of olives will find itself hugged close to their plate, spoon digging down into the faintly murky liquid searching for each gem, those olives eaten one after the next like French fries and by the end of that meal the jar would be, yes, empty.

And then there is Olive Bread!

I would say to housewives, be not daunted by one failure, nor by twenty. Resolve that you will have good bread, and never cease striving after this result till you have effected it. If persons without brains can accomplish this, why cannot you?
- Housekeeping in Old Virginia, Marion Cabell Tyree, 1878


This month’s Bread Baking Day #38 is hosted by my friend Cinzia of Cindystar Blog and she is having a No-Knead Festival! I first made a no-knead bread with my lovely friend Clare on one of her visits and I was simply astounded at what a fabulous, gorgeous bread could come out of no-knead dough! And then I bought Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Zoë François and Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. (fellow Penn alum!) and how I adore no-knead bread! It comes out perfect every single time! I have used their recipes for making fabulous perfect Challah and their Olive Oil Dough for both my Olive, Sun-Dried Tomato and Pine Nut Focaccia and my fabulous Stuffed Focaccia (filled with roasted tomatoes, rocket, chorizo and mozzarella).

It has been much too long since I baked for Bread Baking Day, one of my favorite food blogging events created by my lovely friend Zorra but BBD #38 has me back, for I could not resist baking a No-Knead Bread. And I have returned to our favorite, the Olive Oil Dough and made Olive Bread. Simply divine! What better way to share my love of both olives and bread than this wonderful, dense, tender loaf chock full of big, fat, juicy, plump, salty black Greek olives? Mmmm.

The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight.
- M. F. K. Fisher


And I share this fabulous, tender, flavorful loaf with Susan of Wild Yeast and Yeastspotting!

NO-KNEAD OLIVE OIL DOUGH
Makes enough dough for four 1-pound loaves. Perfect for pizza, focaccia or olive bread.

2 ¾ cup (650 ml) lukewarm water
¼ cup (50 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ Tbs (15 g) active dry yeast
1 ½ Tbs salt
1 Tbs sugar
6 ½ cups (975 g) flour (I used read flour type 55, you can use all-purpose)

Combine the yeast, salt and sugar in a very large mixing bowl or a lidded (not air-tight) food container. Add the olive oil and the lukewarm water.

Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon (although you can use a food processor with a dough attachment or a heavy-duty standing mixer with a dough hook) until completely blended. If you have trouble getting the last bit of flour to blend in you can use your wet hands.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (not air tight) and allow to stand at room temperature for 2 hours, until the dough has risen and then collapses or flattens on top.

The dough can now be used immediately or stored in the bowl covered with plastic wrap or a lidded (not air tight) container for up to 2 weeks. It is easier to work with when chilled.

OLIVE BREAD
Slightly adapted to my own desires!


1-pound (500 g – size of a grapefruit) portion of the Olive Oil Dough
¼ cup high-quality pitted olives
About 1 Tbs Zahatar seasoning (dried ground Zahatar, sesame seeds, spices, salt, olive oil)
Olive oil for brushing the loaf

Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut out a grapefruit-sized piece. Using a rolling pin on a floured work surface, flatten the dough to a thickness of ½ inch. Spread the olives evenly over the surface, leaving about an inch around the edges olive free. Dust with about half the Zahatar, if you desire. Roll the dough up around the olives and shape it into a smooth ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball as you go. Place the ball of dough on a parchment or oven-paper lined baking sheet, cover loosely with plastic and allow to rest for 1 hour. It will rise slightly.

Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). Gently brush the entire surface of the dough with olive oil and dust with the remaining Zahatar. Make slashes across the top of the bread using a serrated or very sharp bread knife. Bake the bread for about 35 minutes until a deep golden brown.


49 comments:

Sally - My Custard Pie said...

The description of your family fridge could describe ours right this moment. My children also grew up eating olives and they are part and parcel of daily life. How I would love to go to the olive stall in Milan. This bread is on my list of things to make over the weekend - perfect family comfort food.

Jamie said...

@Sally - My Custard Pie: Thanks and I think I'll be mixing up more dough today so I can bring fresh loaves to friends this weekend! This is really great bread!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I've always loved olives and pickles. During my teenage years I ate tons of olives...

That bread looks delicious! Perfect with a fresh goat's cheese! Yummy.

Cheers,

Rosa

Miriam said...

I looove olives ever since I was very little and still do. I too agree with Pliny about olives...

Chez Loulou said...

This is right up my alley. I love making bread, especially bread that can be turned into pizza and focaccia.
Thanks Jamie!

Nisrine M. said...

I adore olive bread. I always have. No-knead sounds wonderful.

Peter M said...

I lurve olive bread...we make it for Lent and it's time to make another batch!

Nuts about food said...

I adore olive bread, especially the chewy bread sticks studded with green olives they make here. And pickles...I don't even have the excuse not to make this because it is a no-knead bread (I have never had the guts to make anykind yet). Love the childhood memories you described.

Nuts about food said...

Oh, and I know exactly those stalls here in Milan. So strange to think you stood there many years ago too.

Molly said...

Anchovy stuffed olives might be the best thing I've ever read about. Wolfie's and pickled things? I can totally relate. I do an olive bread -- not no-knead -- using a recipe from Joan Nathan's cookbook about Israeli foods. But wow, to do a no-knead olive bread sounds pretty fantastic. Not quite as fantastic as anchovy stuffed olives,though.

Jamie said...

@Nuts About Food: Milan? I thought you lived in Rome? Oh wow I love to think of you shopping at Mercato Wagner! I love the Olive Guy and love the cheese guys: Franco and Vittorio at the big cheese counter at the opposite corner! And the pasta/bread ladies! Oooh I want to visit!

@Molly: Ah, my kind of girl! I can eat an entire can of those anchovy-stuffed olives in one sitting! Thanks for the visit!

@Peter: Go for it! You make fabulous bread, babes!

My Little Expat Kitchen said...

I can't say no to an olive bread since us Greeks probably have olive oil running through our veins rather than blood. The no-knead part makes it a whole lot more appealing.
Magda

Nicole said...

I so share your love of pickles and all things marinated! My mom used to put marinated mushrooms in my stocking at Christmas (even though we really celebrated Hanukkah.) I would love to try this bread!

Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen said...

I'm an olive and a cornichon girl myself. There's always a jar of each in the fridge. I remember we would save the nice cornichon jars and reuse them as drinking glasses. I think probably every family in France has drinking glasses from old cornichon or mustard jars!

Jamie said...

@Sylvie: Guilty as charged: a cabinet full of mustard jar drinking glasses :-)

Priya said...

Prefectly baked olive bread, marvellous..

Michele AKA 5am Foodie said...

Oh my, we are definitely soulmates. I absolutely adore all things pickled and marinated. And those tiny french cornichons that make your mouth pucker: love them love them love them! I avoided olives until I was a young adult, but now can't get enough of them. The bread looks fabulous and perhaps I will hint strongly to my children that I would quite like some of it for mother's day this weekend...

A Thought For Food said...

I come from a olive-loving family as well. My mom and I will just sit around the table and work our way through a container.

And I love olive bread. I really must try this.

Elra's cooking and baking said...

Marvelous bread! Both my husband and I adore olive bread.

Sanjeeta kk said...

Olives in bread sounds so good! The bread looks perfect for a scrumptious breakfast.

natalia said...

Ciao ! I love olives and your bread is so beautiful !!!!

Colleen said...

I do so love my olives and the little Dill gherkins that we get here in SA. Also other pickled goods that are not too acidic.A favourite of course is Pepperdews! I don't think you took any of those back with you did you? This would make a stunning pepperdew bread...I am going to give this a go very soon. Thank you for sharing. Much love and think of you often, xx

Maris (In Good Taste) said...

That bread looks delicious.I love bread and olives so together-wow!

Barbara Bakes said...

I love the European markets. It makes shopping so much more fun. Your bread looks fabulous!

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5 Star Foodie said...

We also love pickles and olives! Jr. & I need to make this delicious looking olive bread! Very soon!

RamblingTart said...

I am such a pickle fiend, Jamie. :-) As a girl I never stole candy or cookies from my Mother's pantry, just jars of pickles. :-) I am a recent convert to olives but now I adore them - especially Kalamatas. Mmm. Your bread is lovely - and the no-knead aspect is particularly enchanting. :-)

Meeta K. Wolff said...

Oh I do not think it's just your " Eastern European Jewish culture" - we too love our pickles and olives. OUr firdge it always filled with relishes, pickles and other such great things. That is why I love shopping in London so much the variety is incredible. Remember our Tesco tour?

Love this bread Jamie. It's easy to put together and sounds delicious

Nuts about food said...

Milan it is... my comment was actually more about markets in Milan in general, but I have been to Wagner a few times. One day you must tell me more about your years here.

Katerina said...

Nothing can beat up the smell of homemade bread. I make my own olive bread for which i have posted but I always want to try new recipes and ideas. Your bread looks fluffy and flavorful!

Ivy said...

Olive bread is one of my favourites especially with Kalamata olives.

welbilt bread machine said...

Olive bread is one of my favs. I need to try making this with my bread maker next time. Olive pickle bread, sounds good already. Will let you know how it turns out.

Barbara said...

The bread looks wonderful Jamie. Great job. My children were olive eaters from a very young age. My eldest is addicted to them I think.

Lael Hazan @educatedpalate said...

I'm intrigued by the concept of no kneed bread.... I don't believe I've ever made any. Most of the people in my family adore olives, so I'm sure it would be most appreciated.

Our family also loves the cornichons. At Michela's baby naming, Gabriella, then 4 1/2 years old ate an entire jar.

Cindystar said...

what a beauty my eyes can see! my kids would love it! and olives are a great inheritance of our Italian food style too, like the picture you posted of Wagner market, when I go to Milan I often visit Via Calvi Market, just off Tricolore Square, amazing fruit and vegs stalls!
thanks for participating, recap will be on line in a few hours but will email you then.
have a nice week!

Nuts about food said...

Come on over Jamie, I have a little something for you to tell you how much I enjoy your blog.

Anonymous said...

I absoluetly adore pickles and olives, my husbands family is jewish and they always had pickles and olives in their fridge, to me a sammie without a pickle is a sin and olives, I could consume a whole jar of green olives with pimento for breakfast, the bread looks absolutely to die for, I will be baking some soon and others to follow, your blog is wonderful keep up the wonderful recipes and the musings, I so enjoy it daily!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Jessica @ http://cajunlicious.blogspot.com

Nancy Baggett said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Great to hear from you. Somehow I'd never discovered your blog before--delighted to have found you!

I was sort of surprised to see your olive bread. I always chop the olives fairly for mine, so the look of yours is different--more dramatic and photogenic due to the dark/light contrast and geometric olive shapes. Wonder if the loaves taste similar? (I feel a recipe testing coming on :-)!

Nancy Baggett said...

Oops-forgot to mention: Would REALLY love it if you'd try my no-knead olive bread version and let me know what you think. It uses a retarded first fermentation cool-rise method that delivers really exceptional yeast flavor. (The recipe is from my Kneadlessly Simple book and is a variation at the bottom of my Crusty White Pot Bread recipe posted on my site.)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

hehe I'm a big fan of no knead breads! And when they're studded with juicy, salty olives even more so darling Jamie! :D

Lisa said...

LOVE the description of your condiment filled fridge growing up, I had it very similar, always hot cherry peppers, all kinds of pickles, olives etc. My father would spend hours in Zabar's every Saturday night, always finding more pickled or brined love to bring home, along with Sunday brunch. Your posts most always touch a memory for me!

Just give me a jar or container of any type of olive, and I will snack until it's empty. Give me your loaf of olive bread, and there's a good chance I'll eat the whole loaf - slathered with cream cheese. No idea why, since it's not something I grew up on, but I love the combo of cream cheese, olives and bread!

Andrea @ ForkFingersChopsticks said...

Fantastic. I vowed to lay off the bread/carbs this week. Now you have to lure me with this. I'm on the hunt for Zahatar seasoning.

asiangrrl said...

Love. it. I would eat this every day if I were not wheat-intolerant.

Kristen said...

I've always been intimidated by the idea of baking bread. Your recipe looks amazing and you making it sound like it might even be easy to make. Can't wait to try it!

Junglefrog said...

So good this one! I'm gonna be posting this to De Glazen Vork too!!

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molly damon said...

Do I need to let the yeast and warm water combo activate before adding the flour?

Jamie said...

@Molly Damon: Hello! In general, for no-knead breads and when using active dry yeast, no you don't need to let it activate. But if you are worried, go ahead and blend the yeast and warm water (with maybe a pinch of sugar) and let it foam up for 10 minutes. I do that sometimes when I am uncertain. Let me know how it comes out!

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