Spicy olive bread recipe

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In pursuit of the ideal artisanal sandwich bread, perfect for a piquant Italian salumi sandwich, we turned to olives, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Because we intended this bread to be a vehicle for sandwiches, we wanted a tight crumb rather than an open one. To get there, we minimized air pockets by pressing the risen dough into a 10-inch round and deflating any large bubbles. Beyond folding the dough into a taut ball, we didn’t incorporate additional folds, a technique often used in artisanal breads to add more air to the loaf. Slashing a shallow X in the top of the shaped dough ensured that the loaf expanded evenly, making it easy to slice into uniform pieces for sandwiches. The steam trapped in the covered Dutch oven during baking converted the starches on the bread’s surface to a thin layer of gel that crisped up beautifully once we uncovered the Dutch oven. Almost any variety of brined or oil-cured olive works in this recipe, although we prefer a mix of green and black.

  • Yield: 1 loaf
  • Total Time: 3 Hours 30 Minutes


  • ¾ cup pitted olives, rinsed, patted dry, and chopped coarse
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups (16½ ounces) bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1⅓ cups (10⅔ ounces) water, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
How to Make It
  1. Combine olives and garlic in bowl. Whisk flour, yeast, salt, and pepper flakes together in bowl of stand mixer. Whisk water, sugar, and oil in 2-cup liquid measuring cup until sugar has dissolved. Using dough hook on low speed, slowly add water mixture to flour mixture and mix until cohesive dough starts to form and no dry flour remains, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed.
  2. Increase speed to medium-low and knead until dough is smooth and elastic and clears sides of bowl, about 8 minutes. Reduce speed to low, slowly add olive mixture, ¼ cup at a time, and mix until mostly incorporated, about 1 minute.
  3. Transfer dough and any loose olives to lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds. Place dough, seam side down, in lightly greased large bowl or container, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until nearly doubled in size, 1½ to 2 hours.
  4. Lay 18 by 12-inch sheet of parchment paper on counter and lightly spray with vegetable oil spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter. Using lightly floured hands, press and stretch dough into 10-inch round, deflating any gas pockets larger than 1 inch.
  5. Working around circumference of dough, fold edges toward center until ball forms. Flip dough ball seam side down and, using your cupped hands, drag in small circles on counter until dough feels taut and round and all seams are secured on underside of loaf.
  6. Place loaf, seam side down, in center of prepared parchment and cover loosely with greased plastic wrap. Let rise until loaf increases in size by about half and dough springs back minimally when poked gently with your knuckle, 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  7. Thirty minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, place Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Holding sharp paring knife or single-edge razor blade at 30-degree angle to loaf, make two 5-inch-long, ½-inch-deep slashes with swift, fluid motion along top of loaf to form cross.
  8. Carefully transfer pot to wire rack and uncover. Using parchment as sling, gently lower dough into Dutch oven. Cover pot, tucking any excess parchment into pot, and return to oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake loaf for 15 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until loaf is deep golden brown and registers 205 to 210 degrees, about 20 minutes.
  9. Using parchment sling, remove loaf from pot and transfer to wire rack; discard parchment. Let cool completely, about 3 hours, before serving.

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