Olive Bread

My first experience with yeast was not using it, even though I was supposed to. I’d followed a recipe in the Betty Crocker Boys and Girls cookbook, except not really. It was my thing to do when I was 11-12 years old, to get up early on Sundays and bake some kind of coffee cake.

I chose a recipe for yeasted cinnamon buns that morning, but when it came time to the yeast, being that I didn’t know what is was, I ignored it. I also noticed this kneading thing, which seemed like it would take too long, so a win-win for me.

Until my mother came downstairs and I proudly announced that I’d made these buns, and would she do the honors of removing them from the oven. Well she almost dropped that baking dish. What should have been cinnamon buns were round, heavy bricks. And then I learned about yeast.

When I started teaching myself to cook, I learned how to bake bread by following recipes. When you do it on your own, there’s no fear, even though I have memories of my mother not even letting us walk through the kitchen if she had bread rising. Heck, we were hardly allowed to exhale.

But it seemed pretty easy to me, a few ingredients, some kneading, and I even walked around my kitchen while my breads rose. It’s just not hard to bake bread.

Then a cookbook entered my life called Supper Club chez Martha Rose, which was published in 1988. This book wasn’t extraordinary by any means, but it was a fun read, because it was Martha Rose Schulman’s actual experience with her supper club in Paris that she started in 1983 after she moved to France from Austin, Texas.

Her supper club menus are organized by months, which I love. Some menus reflect her love of Texas, but most all as a Francophile, and lover of Mediterranean flavors. But what got my attention was what she did with her yeasted breads. She added stuff to them!

I’d always made whole-grain bread, because I believe that bread should be nourishing, not just pretty, but when I first saw a pesto bread recipe in her cookbook, it was my Hallelujah moment! It was Martha Rose Schulman who changed my path to creative bread baking. And I’ve never looked back. (I’ve mentioned this cookbook before when I made her Sourdough Country Bread.)

So for all the years my husband required bread, for all of the years I catered and was a private chef, I put stuff into the breads I baked. It could be nuts, it could be grated zucchini, tomato paste, onions and cheese, or chili powder. It all works!

Ms. Schulman has a country bread with olives recipe in her cookbook; today I’m making my version of olive bread. Because, you really don’t need a recipe to bake yeasted breads.

Olive Bread

2 ounces warm water
2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
8 ounces whole milk, warmed
1 cup white flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
Extra white flour, for kneading
5 ounces mixed olives, drained

Place the water in a large, warmed bowl and add the yeast and sugar. After the yeast softens stir the liquid, then set aside.

After the yeast bubbles up, about 5 minutes, add the warm milk. Then add 1 cup of white flour and whisk well.

Cover the bowl and place in a warm place for one hour. Meanwhile, chop the olives coarsely and make sure they’re free of any liquid; set aside.

Add one cup of whole wheat flour to the slurry, and whisk or stir in well.

Place a generous amount of white flour where you’re going to knead, and remove the dough from the bowl. Begin kneading the bread, using only as much flour as needed. Knead for about 5 minutes. The dough should be smooth.

Grease the bottom of a large clean bowl, put the dough in it, then turn the dough over so the top is coated in the grease. Place this bowl, covered with a towel, in the warm place for 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the chopped olives where you knead, then “pour” the dough over the top. Using only a little flour as necessary, gently force the olives into the dough until they’re evenly incorporated.

Form a ball with the dough and place it on a greased cookie sheet. Set it in a warm place for 15 minutes, then put it in the oven.

Bake the bread for at least 25 minutes. Times and ovens vary. If you want to check on the internal temperature using a thermometer it should be at 195 degrees F. Anything much less than that and the bread will be doughy on the inside.

Let the bread cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

I served the bread with a soft goat cheese; the slices can also be toasted.

If you love olives, this is a great bread. And it goes so well with cheeses and charcuterie.

This actually posted in October of 2018. For some reason, this and a few others showed up as scheduled to post in 2021. I have no idea how this happened, but sorry if you’ve already seen it!

93 thoughts on “Olive Bread

  • This sounds fantastic~! I absolutely love breads (anything but white, bland, uninspired, spongy wheat things), especially when there’s something delicious hidden inside! I’d pick this one over any other carby foodstuffs any second on any day of the week :D Yum~

  • Hah! I love the recap of your first experience with yeast, Mimi. “Hmmm…yeast? I don’t know what it is, so I’ll leave it out.” I get it, though! In my experience, so many folks are afraid of baking with yeast…but yeasted breads are seriously some of my favorite kitchen activities! I’ve never thought about adding chopped olives into bread, but that’s a genius idea. Think how good that would be as sandwich bread with salami and marinated artichokes! Like an antipasta sandwich! Yum!

    • That is an excellent idea! This cookbook author really turned my life around. I’m not sure I ever made the same bread twice! Even something like some tomato paste and chili powder. Excellent!

  • When I first came to this country I baked my own bread because there was only white bread available. I haven’t baked bread for many years because we now have some fantastic bread. Your bread looks great, I should start baking bread again.

    • Ah, good point. And I’m sure you have wonderful bakeries where you live! I used to make so much bread just for my husband. Almost daily! But now he’s quit eating so much of it. No bakeries where I live.

  • I am 100% including this on my next charcuterie board. I’m not a huge fan of bread (I know, hold the gasps!!!) BUT with olives I think I can change my tune for a bit!

    • No, I get it. I’m a cheese eater. But this one is good. And you can add even more olives, or some grated cheese…

  • You’re so right, Mimi! The aroma of baking bread is enough to get me to run to the store for more yeast! I’m kind of a novice at it, but like you said, it isn’t difficult. Patience and the ability to follow directions is all it really takes.

    • Baking bread can be very scientific. Some sourdough bakers will attest to this. But I’m just saying it doesn’t have to be in any way complicated! I’ve had kids make it! So keep at it. Bread is very forgiving!

  • Your olive bread looks completely delicious, Mimi. I love that you used green and black olives AND pimentos. I also enjoyed your post in general. Yeast – what’s that? I’ll just skip it. I’m afraid there are a lot of adult cooks out there who still think like that. Haha! My early experience with bread was like your mother’s in that it was something like raising your first child – so careful, so attentive. Then when child six comes along, you kind of just let it raise itself.

    • Hahahaha! Oh, child six? I thought two kids was a ton of work! But yeah, I know what you’re saying. My mother truly wouldn’t let us walk into the kitchen, close doors too hard, and truly exhale in fear of the bread failing. So silly.

    • I’ve never made the no-knead no anything, but the results look fabulous. I think I’m too old fashioned to try it though. I like taking part in it like how I made this olive bread. And too many years of doing it this way!

  • Looks wonderful, Mimi! I love just about everything Martha Rose Shulman does – her Christmas Cookie Book is my fav,

    Per your comment above about the no-knead bread. I felt the same way until I realized that I could have really decent (not perfect) bread for breakfast every day with no work – let the stuff rise all night while I am sleeping, and then bake it in the morning before work. Our daily bread. I save the kneading and real bread for the weekends!

    • Oh, I have that cookie book. I forget about it because i never bake! Is she the one who did the stained glass cookies?! Well, it does make sense, the no knead-bread, but I don’t think I could do it! It’s too fun to get involved with dough.

  • Mimi, I love that story. Mine first bread disaster was the opposite. I thought yeast makes it raise and thus fluffy, why not more. Anyway, let me say it rose right over the top of the bowl and everywhere.
    Love olive bread 🥖 so I’m looking forward to baking your recipe.

  • Oh I haven’t made bread in a long while, even though I love doing that; I also like adding stuff to it. Here in Germany we mostly use fresh yeast, but I’ve made some with dried yeast as well.
    Thanks for the reminder – now I have this vision of a cheesy bread in my head :-D . Maybe I’ll get to it this long weekend we’re having over here.

    • My mother used to use fresh yeast a lot. I remember the smell of it! But I’ve never been able to find it here in the US. Enjoy some bread baking!

  • OMGosh Mimi! This bread is to die for! It looks like it is loaded with olives. I’ve never made olive bread before! It needs to be my next venture in the kitchen. There is nothing like the aroma a loaf of any kind of yeast bread rising in the oven. I can hardly stand it until it comes out. Thanks so much for the inspiration for making a new kind of bread.

  • What a delicious recipe. I love to bake bread and my early experiences with baking came through my grandmother. I had that very same cook book when I was a child! I had it for a long time even after I was married, but it eventually fell apart. You’ve brought back some very happy memories.

  • I just read an article in bon appetit encouraging pickled and marinated snack trays. The ones that appealed to me the most were hearts of palm and shallots, charred peppers and garlic and artichoke hearts and lemon. Your olive bread would be a PERFECT addition to such a tray! I’ve been baking a lot of bread lately. My two youngest both love olives! I will definitely give this a try!

      • Oh well. I told my husband tonight that I love black rice and I want to find a market that stocks it. His reply was, “I don’t like black rice”. I said, “I don’t care. I do”. With a family of six, I have learned that you can’t please everyone and although it doesn’t happen often, sometimes, it’s okay to just please yourself!

      • Absolutely!!! It’s probably the biggest reason why I continue blogging. That’s the only way I get to make food I like! And i get to eat it all!!!

      • Good for you! I think my meals would be far more interesting if I either didn’t have young children or was willing to make two meals, but I’m not.

      • I always make sure they try it. I thank them for trying and if they hate it, they get a yogurt or cheese and/or fruit. My MIL spoiled my step kids being a short order cook for all meals and snacks so I’ve had to I do some mending. Although, I seem to be a short order cook in the morning…

  • I love making bread. It’s still something I do every Saturday morning. Rolls to go with my soups for the week and a loaf of wholemeal bread too. This olive bread would be something Lynne and I would enjoy whilst watching a film on a Saturday afternoon. Lovely!

    • Thank you Neil. I love it as well, there’s just no demand for it in my house any longer. My husband used to eat more bread than anything else, but he’s completely changed his diet over the years.

    • Hahahahaha! Better than using salt for sugar! No my mother didn’t help either. If she was cooking, we weren’t allowed in the kitchen. But I think you just read about that!

  • Mimi – I have been catching up on my emails and came across this lovely post of yours which I totally missed – must have been whilst I was recently indisposed! I’m glad I didn’t miss it totally. I love bread making. I usually make sourdough bread using one of my starters (Grace – white and Zazzy – wholemeal) but haven’t really ventured into ‘adding’ to the dough. You have motivated me to try. As always – thank you!

    • You are so welcome. and i hope you don’t think that I’m minimizing the science involved with sourdough. It’s just that basic bread dough is so straightforward, and what ever you do, well, it works! Thank you!

  • Perfect Mediterranean loaf indeed ! Must say: on Sunday, I’ve made pesto pancetta breadsticks to publish but haven’t made publishing schedule yet ! Anyway, we are on the same page ! :-)

  • Love the stories Mimi! And this bread is is so beautiful! I love that you used both green and black olives. I have quite a few of Martha Rose Schulman’s cookbooks, having discovered her decades ago! Her techniques stand the test of time.

    • Yes! They really are! I should look into some other of her cookbooks, if they’re still in print…

  • This is a delectable recipe definitely worth attempting. I have a significant amount of arthritis in my hands. Do you ever use a machine to do the kneading? The cookbook sounds like a fun read.

    • Oh ugh. I’ve had one surgery on my right hand, two on my left. Kneading doesn’t hurt anymore, but I have to be cautious. Honestly, I’m too old fashioned to make bread any other way. I love the process!

  • oh yum I love olive bread tho i’ve never been a bread maker as i am not terribly keen on plain bread. and i’ve always been a bit frightened of yeast cooking. but i’m trying to change all that! Bread recipes here i come.

    • You make it once, you can make it in your sleep. Truly. In all of these years, yeast has never ever not worked for me. And you can really open doors and talk while bread is rising!

  • Martha Rose Schulman is such an excellent, excellent cook. And writes wonderful cookbooks. This looks like a terrific recipe. Love the story, too. Fun read — thanks.

    • Thank you! I should look into more of her books, if they’re still in print. I love how she was a Tex-mex gal living in Paris!

  • Who doesn’t love olive bread, and this one is so beautiful. I messed up my share of recipe when I was a young baker too, it was good that your mother taught you. My dear Mom was so patient with me in the kitchen, she was the one who gave me my love for cooking and baking.

    • My mother didn’t teach me anything. If she was cooking, we weren’t even allowed in the kitchen. I delved into cooking after I got married. I followed directions for bread a few times, then have since never used a recipe. But my mother did expose us to wonderful foods!

  • Ah, I’m totally with you, Mimi. My first experiment with yeast was an epic fail – I was so frustrated as it was a recipe that required an overnight rise in the fridge. It felt like a lot of time wasted. However, I stuck with it, and now baking breads is one of my favorite kitchen activities! I do love all sorts of mix-ins in bread, and this olive bread sounds fantastic. I could see this being toasted with a bit of butter for an appetizer idea. Or thinly sliced for sandwiches! So many good ways to use this bread!

  • We could probably eat that whole olive loaf in one sitting. Talk about delicious. Breadmaking is an art. Any part that is not done exactly right and your are looking at a door stop instead of a well risen bread dough. (smiling). Yours turned out beautiful. Fantastic on a cheese board.

    • Olive breads are fabulous, and to think I had to get that idea from a cookbook! It seems so natural!!!

  • I missed this the first time round so happy accident it posted again! My mum used to make me cream cheese and olive sandwiches and this bread took me back. There is such a learning curve when you start baking as a child.

  • I loved your story of skipping the yeast, haha! I feel like this is exactly something I would have done as a kid, and probably younger adult. Kneading? Way too long. Skip that! Ha. This olive bread looks terrific.

  • I did so many similar things with baking when i was a kid. I learned early that I shouldn’t make recipes that used words I didn’t know yet. Haha! I love putting things in breads and used to do the same when I was catering, too. And olives are my favorite! Looks delicious. :-) ~Valentina

    • Ha!!! That’s funny. Recipes with no words!!! Maybe that’s why I also learned early on that one really doesn’t need recipes!

    • You’re so welcome! My life truly did change when I first saw this recipe decades ago. Just about anything can be added to bread dough!

  • Mimi. I love that story and that sounds like a great cookbook. I love olive bread. SO good, as pictured, with a nice goat cheese. Thanks for the recipe.

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