13 June 2011

Tuscan Peasant Bread with Olives

The first of the herbs are coming in from the garden and yesterday I bought new onions and garlic at the farmer's market in Temple, NH ... today all I could think about was a fresh vegetable fry-up over some penne pasta and a good loaf of bread for slopping up the juices and some olive oil ... I can taste it already!

I bought The Bread Bible awhile ago and have been itching to try a few new bread recipes, so I got out my clay bread baker and made this Tuscan Bread ... I put green and black olives into the dough and plan to have a small dish of olive oil, kosher salt and black pepper for knoshing with it.

This is a chewy crusty bread and the saltiness of the olives lends a really nice flavor. I'm already thinking that tomorrow we'll have bruschetta with that new basil that's popping up out back and some vine-ripened tomatoes from the market (no ready grown just yet!) . I also think a slather of mascarpone and smashed olives and shallots will find its was onto the table! Golly! I do love it when the summer recipes come out of the mothballs!

But, back too making the bread!  This Tuscan Peasant Bread comes from Beth Hensperger's book. If you are a bread fiend like me, you will truly like this book ... no illustrations, but awesome information and recipes.

Tuscan Peasant Bread with Olives

Makes 1 large round boule or long oval


2 c. warm water (105 tp 115°F)
2½ tsp. active dry yeast
3¼ to 3½  c. unbleached all-purpose flour
½ c. coarse-grind whole wheat flour
pinch sugar
1 tsp. salt
⅓ c. black olives, small chop
⅓ c. green olives, small chop

Making the Bread:

1. Place the warm water in a deep bread bowl and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Whisk for about 1 minute to dissolve the yeast and make the mixture 'milky-looking'.

2. Add 1 cup of the all-purpose flour and all the whole wheat flour to the yeast and beat well to make a smooth paste. Cover with a clean towel and set aside for 1 hour at room temperature.

3. Chop the olives and have them ready.

4. After one hour, add the pinch of sugar, salt, and ½ cup flour and beat well. Continue adding ½ cup flour at a time and stirring in to combine completely. When the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl, scrape it onto a lightly floured kneading surface.

5. Flatten the loose sticky dough and start adding the olive by the small handful. Dust hands and surface with just a tablespoon of flour at a time, and turn the dough in on itself, kneading and continuing to add the olives into the dough. Knead the dough for a good 8 minutes until it is soft and pliant. This is a very soft dough, so don't feel you have to keep adding more flour after the 8 minutes knead time.

6. Scrape the ball of dough up and place a light dusting of flour over the knead surface, dust the top of the dough and put a towel over it. Leave it for 1 to 1½ hours ... until doubled.

7. Preheat the oven to 425°F and place terra cotta tiles or pizza stones on the highest rack and the lowest rack in your oven.

8. Sprinkle a pizza pan with cornmeal. Gently 'deflate' the risen dough and shape it into a compact boule or and oval. Place it on the pan and dust the top surface with flour. Make slashes in the top surface no deeper than ¼ inch. Cover with the towel and let rest for 20 minutes at room temperature.

9. When the oven has been preheated for 20 minutes, place the bread  on the lowest rack and bake for a solid 55 minutes. 

10. Bread should be firm and sound hollow when rapped. Remove from the pan upon taking it from the oven and cool the loaf on a rack before cutting.

11. Store closely wrapped, as this bread will get hard, if left out in the air.

12. Excellent toasted, used for dipping, bruschetta, or as a base for a bread salad.


  1. This looks divine!!!!! I might just have to purchase the "Bread Bible". Thanks for sharing :)


  2. I have absolutely no self control when it comes to bread. I swear I could toast half a loaf of Scali Bread in one seating. This bread wouldn't last a day at my house. Looks and sounds delicious.

  3. A slice of this delicious bread and a summer salad is the perfect weeknight meal.

  4. Susan, that is one gorgeous loaf of bread! I can taste your pasta too. Nothing like fresh, homemade bread and pasta.

  5. The Bread Bible is exactly that...a great guide!

  6. I adore olive bread. I am so excited to see a homemade version! Thank you!!

  7. Love olive bread. I love them separately (I just ate a jar of olives and I eat a LOT of bread) and I adore them together. Fantastic looking bread.

  8. What a success; it is just beautiful!My husband just loved olive bread. I am a Bread worshiper and I have been eyeing that book for a while.

  9. that looks so good! yes, wish i could have that for bruschetta!!


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