Wild Bread with Olives (BBD#02)

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Bread Baking Day #02 – bread with fruit

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wild olive bread Just as with BBD#01 “bread with herbs”, once again, I blanched when I first saw this month’s theme. Please don’t misunderstand; I love bread and I love fruit too. But as I said about BBD#01’s theme, “bread with herbs”,

[G]enerally, I prefer that the bread be made with just flour, water, yeast and salt. With maybe some olive oil and perhaps some milk and sugar or honey.

(read more about BBD#01 here)

And maybe the occasional raisin… oh wait!! That’s fruit, isn’t it? :lalala:

Excuse me for bragging but I make great raisin bread – two kinds actually. A molasses fennel rye raisin bread and whole wheat raisin bread. But I made molasses fennel rye bread for World Bread Day 2006 and I’ve already blogged about raisin bread (read more about World Bread Day 2006 here and raisin bread here). And for a brief moment, I considered apricots. (Remember those fabulous braided apricot buns?)

But even if I was going to use fruit, what I really wanted to use was my wild yeast. And I don’t yet know how to change a recipe that calls for regular yeast into one that uses wild yeast.

As I leafed through the bread section of Piano Piano Pieno by Susan McKenna Grant, I toyed with the idea of making a plain loaf of wild bread and saying that my entry for BBD#02 contained the fruits of labour. And as this devious plan began to ferment in what’s left of my mind, suddenly, there was the answer, right after the very first basic recipe on page 46: a recommended variation to add olives to the dough.

Olives!! Olives are fruit, aren’t they?

Let me just check…

Native to the Mediterranean area, the olive is a small, oily fruit olive

ol·ive […] 1 a : a Mediterranean evergreen tree (Olea europaea of the family Oleaceae, the olive family) cultivated for its drupaceous fruit that is an important food and source of oil; also : the fruit olive

Olive (Olea europaea L.) […] The fruit (a drupe), which is pale green when unripe and purple to black when ripe [… and …] can be directly preserved in salt or brine. – Olive (Olea europaea)

Yes!!! (Ah, isn’t the internet great?) Olives are fruit! And olives in bread were the reason that I got onto this wild yeast craze. Mrs.Jones (with whom I’m trying to keep up) made fantastic olive bread and after listening to me rave about how good it was, she showed me McKenna Grant’s cookbook and said I HAD to get it. And of course, as usual, she was right. I did have to get it…

wild olive bread So without further ado, and with apologies for my verbosity (more verbose than usual, I must admit), I present for BBD#02 bread with fruit: wild bread with olives (and the fruit of my labour).

Wild Bread with Olives
based on the recipe for basic sourdough in Piano Piano Pieno by Susan McKenna Grant

salt measurement corrected 14 November 2007

wild yeast starter . wild yeast feeding . yeasted starter . build up (day before baking) . bread (day of baking)

wild yeast starter

  • ⅛ tsp liquid honey (unpasteurized)
  • ½ c (~60gm) rye flour, divided
  • water*
  • unbleached all-purpose flour


  1. Day 1 Evening In a small bowl, mix together 2 Tbsp (30gm) water, honey and ¼ c (30gm) rye flour. Cover with plastic and leave in a warm draftfree spot (counter in summer, oven with only light turned on in winter) overnight
  2. Day 2 Morning Take 2 Tbsp (30 gm) of above mixture (discard the rest) and stir in 2 Tbsp (30 gm) water and ¼ c (30 gm) rye flour. Cover and leave… etc.
  3. Day 2 Evening Take 2 Tbsp (30 gm) of above mixture (discard the rest) and stir in 2 Tbsp (30 gm) water and 3 Tbsp (30gms) unbleached all-purpose flour. Cover and leave… etc.
  4. Day 3 Morning Take 2 Tbsp of above mixture (discard the rest) and stir in 2 Tbsp water and 3 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour. Cover and leave… etc.
  5. Day 3 Evening It’s likely that you will see bubbles by now. These are the first kind of bacteria that is produced – harmless but not the kind to make bread rise) Take 2 Tbsp of above mixture (discard the rest) and stir in 2 Tbsp water and 3 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour. Cover and leave… etc.
  6. Day 4 Morning Take 2 Tbsp of above mixture (discard the rest) and stir in 2 Tbsp water and 3 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour. Cover and leave… etc.
  7. Day 4 Evening Take 2 Tbsp of above mixture (discard the rest) and stir in 2 Tbsp water and 3 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour. Cover and leave… etc.
  8. Continue the process for 5 to 14 days. You will notice the bubbles will start to increase. When there is lots of activity and the mixture doubles in the 12 hour time period, you’re ready for the next step to make the starter in preparation for baking the next day.
  9. Penultimate Baking Day Morning Take 2 Tbsp of above mixture (discard the rest) and stir in 2 Tbsp water and 3 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour. Cover and leave… etc.
  10. Penultimate Baking Day Midday The mixture should have doubled and there should be lots of bubbling. These are caused by the second kind of bacteria that is produced – beneficial and the kind to make bread rise) Take 2 Tbsp of above mixture (reserve the rest to add to focaccia dough or make crackers with it – don’t burn them as I did!!). Stir in 2 Tbsp water and 3 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour. Cover and leave… etc.
  11. Penultimate Baking Day Evening Stir ⅓ c (~85gm) water and ⅔ c (~85gm) unbleached all-purpose flour into ALL of the above mixture. Cover and leave… etc.
  12. Baking Day Morning Take 2 Tbsp (30 gm) of above mixture (reserve the rest for making bread) and stir in 2 Tbsp (30 gm) water and 3 Tbsp (30 gm) unbleached all-purpose flour. Cover and leave for 2 hours on the counter. Put it into a covered glass jar and store in refrigerator.

    Feed the starter every 3 days: Take 2 Tbsp (30gm) of the refrigerated mixture – discard the extra (or add it to muffins or batter or…) – and stir in 2 Tbsp (30gm) water and 2 3 Tbsp (30gm) unbleached all-purpose flour. To use the refrigerated starter for baking, begin at the step for penultimate baking day morning.

*Tap water is fine to use – just make sure that it has stood for at least 12 hours so that the chlorine has dissipated.


  • 3 c (720ml)** unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ c (120ml) wholewheat flour
  • 1 ⅓ c (335ml) water
  • ¾ c (65ml) wild yeast starter recipe
  • 2½ tsp seasalt
  • Morrocan style oil-cured black olives


  1. Put all the ingredients except the olives into a bowl that is large enough for the mixture to triple. Stir together with a wooden spoon until the flour is encorporated. It will look a bit like slightly stiff oatmeal porridge. Allow to rest for 20 minutes.
  2. Turn the dough out of the bowl onto an unfloured work surface.
  3. Wash and dry the mixing bowl.
  4. Kneading: Without adding extra flour, knead the dough until it is smooth and silky (5 to 10 minutes). Let your dough scraper (a spatula works) be your friend if the dough is sticking to the board. One hand scrapes the dough and the other kneads. Under no circumstances should you add more flour. If you find your kneading hand is sticking to much, just scrape off the excess with the scraper and continue. Don’t worry when the dough doesn’t resemble a pillow. Use the dough scraper to squoosh the dough into the clean bowl. Cover with a clean damp tea towel (or use one of those elasticized reusable plastic covers that look like shower hats) and allow to rise in a draftfree area of the counter for 80 minutes.
  5. After 80 minutes has passed, very lightly dust the work surface with flour. Carefully turn the dough out (try not to disturb any bubbles). Using the bread scraper and still trying not to disturb any bubbles, fold the left side into the center, then the top into the center, then the right side, then the bottom. As you lift it into the bowl, fold it in half once more. Try to place it in the bowl smooth side up. Cover. Let it ferment at room temperature for 80 minutes again.
  6. Repeat the above step. On this final time, the dough will look more like the smooth soft pillow that is described in books. The amount of dusting flour used in these folding maneuvres is not much more than tablespoon and probably much less (sorry, I haven’t measured). Allow to rise at room temperature until the dough has just doubled.
  7. Pit and roughly chop the the olives. Set aside.
  8. Shaping: When the dough has doubled, sprinkle a small amount of flour on the work surface. Gently turn the dough out, disturbing it as little as possible. Cut the dough in half. Scatter some of the olives overtop. Gently fold (try not to disturb the bubbles) the left side into the center, then the top, then the right side then the bottom. Scatter the rest of the olives. Fold in half. Turn it over. Continue to fold it underneath itself to form an even tight ball without actually deflating the dough. (When I shape the dough, I hold it the way I would hold a wild bird – firmly enough so it won’t escape but gently so as not to harm it.) Place the shaped bread seam side down on a parchment covered peel. Balance a cookie cutter on top of the shaped bread and sprinkle generously all over with flour. Cover with a clean damp tea towel or plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for an hour or more – until the dough is about doubled. To test, flour your finger and press gently on the edge – it should very slowly spring back. For comparison, try pressing early on to see how it quickly springs back when the dough has not risen enough.
  9. Baking: Thirty minutes before you are going to bake, put the baking stone on the middle rack of the oven and turn it to 500F.
  10. At the time of baking, gently remove the cookie cutters and spray the top of each boule liberally with water. Put the bread in oven and immediately turn the oven down to 425F. Bake the bread for a total of 40 to 45 minutes or until it has an internal temperature of about 210F. Half way through the baking, turn the bread around to account for uneven heat in the oven.
  11. Turn off the oven. Put the finished bread back in the oven and leave with the door ajar for 5 or 10 minutes. Then, remove to cool on a rack. Wait til the bread is cool before cutting it. It is still continuing to bake inside! If you wish to serve warm bread, reheat it after it has cooled completely.

To reheat unsliced bread, turn the oven to 500F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread in the hot oven for ten minutes.

** Please note that even though a Canadian cup holds 250ml, I always measure flour with my half cup measure, which holds 125ml. The official Canadian half cup holds 120ml. (Why is the half cup not exactly half of a cup?? I have NO idea. Maybe the Canadians who were setting the measuring cup standards had difficulty with fractions in school…)

edit 2 August 2007: It occurred to me that maybe your wild yeast hasn’t been captured yet and you’d like to make olive bread tomorrow! If so please take a look at:

How did the bread taste, you ask? Fabulous!! The amazing thing is that the bread smelled like raisin bread! Even the flavour was reminiscent of raisin bread – until one tasted an olive. Then the gentle hit of wonderful salty olive took over.

wild olive bread Wild bread really is the best bread I’ve ever made. I now understand what many of those people in were raving about.

We served the olive bread with barbecued chicken (with a simple dried herb, salt, pepper and garlic powder dry rub), rapini and green beans with caramelized garlic and fresh herbs from the garden – basil, thyme, oregano (hot!!) and arugula (also hot!!!)

Bread Baking Day #02: bread with fruit


Becke (Columbus Foodie) is hosting the second round of Zorra’s (Kochtopf) event Bread Baking Day. She has chosen “bread with fruit” as the theme; she wrote:

[T]his month, I’d like you to include fruit in your bread recipes. It can be any kind of bread (yeast, quick, etc) and any kind or form of fruit (fresh, dried, preserves, etc). […]

Bake a bread with fruit . [… The deadline for BBD#02 is Wednesday, 1st of August 2007.

For complete details on how to participate in BBD#2, please go to:

edit 6 August 2007: Becke has posted the round up:


If you haven’t already, please read the sometimes grisly history of my hunt for wild yeast:


8 responses to “Wild Bread with Olives (BBD#02)

  1. Susan

    Beautiful bread! I don’t recall eating Moroccan olives before but they just look like they have an incredible intense flavor. Good idea, I wouldn’t have though of using olives for a fruit theme, but they are, aren’t they?

  2. ejm Post author

    We love this style of olive. The Nyons olives in the south of France are also made this way. They really are fabulous! Zorra, perhaps you can find them if you ask for Nyons olives at your market?

    And thank you again, Susan. Really, I don’t think I could have done it without your help! And yes, the olives do lend a lovely intensity that is perfect with the slightly stronger flavour of the sourdough bread.

    Some of my recipe books call for Kalamata olives but I really do think that these dried oil-cured ones are best. Unless, we managed to get some of those olives that have been stored with whole garlic cloves and chilli spiced oil. I bet those would be fabulous too!

  3. ejm Post author

    So close and yet so far, Zorra! But I would have thought that Morocco would be happy to sell their olives to anyone – not just the Spanish. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if this style of curing wasn’t done in other places as well. Lebanon?? Turkey???

    Here in Toronto, we can buy this kind of olive in glass jars at the supermarket (Unico and Cedar brands are the only ones I’ve noticed) They are also available in bulk at some of the shops in Kensington and St.Lawrence Markets.

    There is a photo of Moroccan olives on the Cook’s Thesaurus (scroll down to ‘Moroccan dry-cured olive’).

  4. Jeanne

    Wow – you are clearly FAR braver than me… Wild yeast/sourdough/whatever starters scare me silly (I know, I know, ridiculous – it’s like a 3-celled organism!!) and the commitment it takes to keep them alive scares me even more, not to mention the possibility that after all that my dear husband will discover it, think it’s “off” and discard it before I get home!! The bread sounds absolutely amazing though…

  5. ejm Post author

    Perhaps bravery has nothing to do with it, Jeanne. I’m suspecting “foolish” might be closer to being the correct term. :lalala: But really, it isn’t all that difficult. It just requires a little planning ahead (which isn’t always my strongest suit, I must say.)

    For years, I swore I wouldn’t ever go so far as capturing my own yeast. (It’s all MrsJones’ fault!! She’s the one who convinced me to try it early this year because her bread was so fantastic. Interestingly, she just phoned me last week to ask if she could have some of my starter because she forgot to feed hers and it died…)

    I don’t think your husband would think it was off. It smells quite nice and has thrilling bubbles even in the fridge. And it’s quite a conversation stopper when travelling and you excuse yourself because you need to go and feed your starter. :-D

  6. pelicano

    Hey, nice work! I was thrilled to find this information, quite by accident as such things go…yes, sometime I’ll definitely try to capture wild yeast this way. And Morroccan oil-cured olives are lovely things in anything; I’d even admit to nibbling one or two for a snack as I pass them in my stock-shelves.

    I’m glad you blundered in, pelicano. Do let me know how the wild yeast capture goes when you do it.
    And you’re right, Moroccan style oil-cured olives make great snacks. -ejm


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