Apulia’s Olive Bread

Apulia’s Olive Bread



1/2 tsp active dry yeast

1/2 cup lukewarm water

1-1/4 cups unbleached flour

Extra virgin olive oil

5 oz black, round Greek olives

1-1/2 cups lukewarm water

1-1/2 tsp active dry yeast

3-3/4 cups unbleached flour

2 tsp salt

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

A baking stone

A baker's peel (paddle)



1. First make the biga. In a bowl, dissolve the yeast, stirring it into lukewarm water. When it has dissolved completely, about 10 minutes or less, add the flour and stir thoroughly with a wooden spoon to distribute the yeast uniformly in the flour.


2. Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly filmed with olive oil, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and place the bowl in a place protected equally from cold draughts and heat. Let it rise overnight for 14 to 18 hours, until it has more than doubled in volume.


3. When ready to proceed, cut the olives all the way around their middles and loosening them from the pits. Pull the olives apart any way they come.


4. Put one-third of the lukewarm water in a large bowl and stir into it the dry yeast. When it has completely dissolved, add to the bowl half of the the biga , one-third of the flour, and the salt, and mix with a spatula until all ingredients are well integrated. Then add the remaining flour and the remaining lukewarm water, pouring it in gradually, while mixing steadily with the spatula. Add the pitted olives and continue to mix the dough, occasionally lifting it out of the bowl with the spatula, then slapping it back in. Mix the dough in this manner until it comes easily loose from the bowl, about 8 minutes or so.


5. Dust a work counter lightly with flour, and turn out the dough from the bowl onto the counter. Work the dough for a few minutes with the spatula, slipping the spatula under the edges and folding them over toward the center. Move the spatula over each time until you have circled the whole mass of dough and folded the edges over at least once. Dust the work surface with flour occasionally if necessary to keep the dough from sticking.


6. Put 1 tbsp olive oil in a clean bowl, put the dough into the bowl and turn it in all directions until it is evenly coated with oil. Dampen a towel, wring out excess moisture, and cover the bowl with it. Put the bowl in a warm, protected corner for about 3 hours, until it has approximately doubled in volume.


7. Dust the work counter with flour, and turn the dough in the bowl out on it. Dust your hands with flour and use the palms of flatten the dough to a thickness of about 1-1/2 inches. With both, lift the edge of the dough furthest from you and fold it toward you, stopping about one-third of the way from meeting the edge close to you. Stick your thumbs out straight and horizontally, parallel to your body, bringing their tips together, and use them to push out the folded-over dough toward its original position. Perform this operation 3 times, then rotate the dough a one-quarter turn, and repeat the step 3 more times. Periodically you will need to dust the counter and your hands with flour.

8. Rotate and pat the dough to form a more or less round shape. Turn a bowl upside down over it, covering it entirely, and let it rise for 1 full hour. At least 30 minutes before you will be ready to bake, put the baking stone in the oven and preheat oven to 425°F.


9. When the final rising time is over, spread cornmeal thinly over the baker's peel, put the ball of dough on the peel, and slide it into the oven onto the preheated stone. After 3 minutes, turn the oven down to 400°F. In 20 minutes, turn the oven down again, to 375°F. Bake for another 40 minutes. Let the bread cool down completely on a rack before using. When it has cooled off, You can freeze it, if you like. This bread seems to mature in the freezer and once it is reheated in a very hot oven, it tastes even better, if possible, than when it was just baked.

Source: The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking - Marcella Hazan

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