Greek Olive Bread from Rita Heikenfeld


Makes 2 round loaves, 2 lbs. each

3 packages  rapid rise yeast (Fleischman's)

2 cups bread flour (King Arthur) and 4 cups all purpose flour, both mixed with:

1 tablespoon sea salt, 2 tablespoons fresh minced rosemary and 1 tablespoon fresh minced thyme (or use 1 tablespoon dried rosemary, minced and 1 teaspoon dried thyme)

2 cups drained Greek Kalamata olives, cut in half  (I use Kroger Private Selection)

2 cups tap water, no need to be warm

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Extra flour for kneading, etc.

Yellow cornmeal

Egg wash made with 1 yolk and a bit of water

Put yeast with flour mixtures in mixer and blend on low with paddle attachment. Sprinkle olives in and blend on low until well mixed.  Add water slowly and blend, then add olive oil and blend. Put dough hook on and knead 5-6 minutes, adding a bit more flour if necessary until you achieve a very soft dough, somewhat sticky, that leaves the sides of the bowl.

Place dough in oiled bowl and bless it! Then cover and let rise until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours.

Prepare baking pans with parchment and sprinkle cornmeal on the parchment where the dough will be. The cornmeal acts as little ball bearings, keeping the bread elevated a bit so the bottom doesn't burn.

Punch dough down (you'll know it's doubled when you stick 2 fingers in the dough and the indentation remains) and turn onto lightly floured surface.  Knead a few times until dough feels smooth. Divide in half and shape each half into a round ball and put on baking pan.  Let rise again until doubled, about 30-40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450.

Brush gently all over with egg wash and use a knife to slash a half crescent shape the length of each loaf, just off center.

Put bread in oven, and immediately reduce heat to 425. Bake until golden brown and rotate bread pans if necessary, halfway through baking time. Bread will sound hollow when done and will register 200-210 in center. This will take about 35 minutes.