No Knead Olive Bread

Posted on: August 24, 2009

No knead bread is really fantastic because it’s easy.  There aren’t very many special skills involved.  As long as you know how to measure ingredients and mix them together you’re set to go.   If there is one secret ingredient here it would be patience.  According to the famous bible of no knead baking, you only need five minutes a day to make great bread.  It’s true but also a little misguided at the same time.  It’s true because it really does only takes a few minutes to work the ingredients but what about all that waiting time?  First, there’s the two hour wait for the initial rise, then 40 minutes for the second rise, and then 35 minutes in the oven.  Even if you make the dough ahead of time, you have to wait a few hours before breaking of a nice, warm piece of rustic bread.  I mean, when you wake up in the morning or come home from a long day do you really want to wait two hours for something to eat?! Well, it was actually worth it. After all, the whole loaf was gone by the end of the day. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m not great with the patience skill.

  

  

  

The olive bread was perfect.  It had a firm, crunchy crust and a soft, moist interior.  The saltiness and texture of the olives really provided another depth to the bread.  I’ve made other variations with cheese and honey, but I have to say, so far, this one with olives has been the best.

As you can see my bread is not very aesthetically pleasing.  I forgot to sprinkle cornmeal on my “pizza peel” (I don’t have a pizza peel) and used whole wheat flour instead.  It does not work.  It’s probably because the dough is really moist. Cornmeal is thicker and grainier than flour, it can withstand the moisture whereas flour cannot. I was kind of upset that the shape was all distorted but it didn’t affect the taste.  Sometimes the ugliest things are the most beautiful, right?

No Knead Olive Bread

Adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Makes four 1 pound loaves

Dough:
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast or 1 1/2 packets
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
5 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
Cornmeal for “pizza peel”

1 cup olives, chopped or 1/4 cup per 1 pound dough

Cornstarch Wash:
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water

Mix the yeast, salt and water in a large bowl.  Add the flour  and mix thoroughly with a spoon.  Cover with saran wrap or a non-airtight top and let it rest for 2 hours at room temperature.  During this time the dough will rise and collapse.

After 2 hours the dough can be used immediately or stored in the refrigerator in a lidded container for up to 2 weeks.

When ready to bake, sprinkle the top of the dough and working surface with flour and cut off 1 pound or a grapefruit-sized piece. Flatten dough with a rolling pin until 1/2 inch thick.  Sprinkle with 1/4 cup olives.  Roll the dough into a log and seal the sides.  Quickly shape the dough into a ball by stretching the top of the dough to the bottom. Dust with flour when needed.  Sprinkle the pizza peel with cornmeal and place the shaped dough on top.  Let rest for 1 hour.

After 40 minutes, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Place a baking stone or cookie sheet upside down onto the middle rack. Put an empty broiler tray or baking dish on the rack below.

Make the cornstarch wash by blending the cornstarch wash with a little bit of water to make a paste.  Then whisk in 1/2 cups of water.  Heat in the microwave for 30 to 60 seconds on high.

Right before baking, brush the surface of the dough with the cornstarch wash.  Make a few slashes across the loaf with a serrated knife to make a pattern.  Slide the dough into the oven and pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray below.  Close the oven door quickly and bake for about 35 minutes or until the top crust is brown and very firm.

Cool on a rack before eating.

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