When I bake bread at home, I look for a recipe that is infused with the special flavor of herbs, vegetables, cheese or meat, since good basic breads are widely available in bakeries and gourmet food stores.
Olive bread is an unusual and delicious Italian loaf that is easily made in the food processor. The dough can be fashioned into two small breads, a single round bread, a dozen rolls, or it can be used for pizza, calzone (turnovers), or bread sticks.
The flavor and color of the bread will vary according to the type of olives used in the recipe. Standard pitted black California or imported olives will yield a dark speckled loaf with a relatively mild flavor. Oil or salt-cured ripe black olives, which can be recognized by their shriveled skins, will produce a loaf that resembles pumpernickel bread and has a very pronounced flavor.
Olives are processed into the bread dough along with the dry ingredients. Once the sponge or yeast mixture is added, continuous processing with the metal blade fully kneads this soft, slightly sticky bread dough in about 20 seconds, with no additional kneading required.
BLACK OLIVE BREAD
1/2 cup bread or unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon dry yeast
1/3 cup plus 3 to 4 tablespoons warm water
4 ounces (1 cup) black pitted olives, rinsed and drained
1 to 1 1/4 cups unbleached flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 egg white
Place bread flour in mixing bowl. Add yeast and 1/3 cup water and stir to form paste. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside until mixture doubles, about 2 hours (can stir down and refrigerate, tightly covered, overnight).
Insert metal blade in processor. Add olives, 1 cup unbleached flour, salt, 2 tablespoons remaining water and oil. Process 10 seconds.
Stir yeast mixture well, add to machine and process until mixture forms soft sticky ball, about 20 seconds. Add remaining water or flour as needed if ball does not form, or dough is runny or liquid.
Rinse inside of zipper-lock plastic bag with warm water, add dough, press out excess air, seal and refrigerate up to 2 days. (Or, rinse large bowl with warm water, but do not dry. Add dough, cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside to rise until dough triples in volume about 2 1/2 hours.
Lightly flour work surface. Remove dough from bag or bowl without kneading and press out air. Cut dough in half. Flatten each half into circle, gather edge towards center and knead each piece of dough into ball.
Sprinkle baking sheet with 1 tablespoon cornmeal. Place each ball of dough (smooth side up) on cornmeal. Cover loosely with cloth towel and set aside until dough has doubled, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Adjust oven rack to lowest position. Beat egg white lightly with 1 teaspoon cold water. Brush top of each loaf with egg white glaze. Bake at 400 degrees until loaves are golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Makes 2 small loaves.