I baked this little herbed olive breads for my spontanous birthday party, but let me start from the beginning. Last week had been my birthday. Since my family and most of my friends are not living on the same continent, I didn’t make big plans. I wasn’t even in the mood for a party and time for preparation was tight anyway. And to add to all of this, most of my local friends had been traveling for work or leisure or studying for a soon exam… just bad timing.
My expectations had been a dinner in a nice restaurant, afterwards eating most of my birthday cake without sharing and a nice bottle of something bubbly to wash it down. This had been the plan until two days prior to my special day and it had been a good plan.
Suddenly my invitation list went from zero to maybe 10 to a relatively unknown number, it just happened. The news about my birthday, and the associated celebration spread like wildfire. As much as I was looking forward to celebrate my birthday, I am also a planner and a list maker and this spontaneous party made me nervous. After all I just needed a new plan. Preparing much ahead hadn’t been an option due to lack of time. But all fell into place with a little help and it worked out great. My guests had been neighbors, colleagues and new friends from different parts of my life, but a bunch of mostly strangers among themselves and all of them having a blast. Mr. F took care of the grill, so I had time to enjoy the party, chatting and clinking glasses. And I snacked on some of these little herbed olive breads. They were luscious with a slab of salted butter, just to keep me alive until the cake was served. I still have my priorities and eating as much cake as possible, was the most important one.
This is one of those very versatile recipes, which I appreciate very much. You can swap the herbs mixture for others herbs or spices. Substitute olives for nuts or a mix of both. Just make sure not to forget to make the starter a day ahead, and you are halfway there. I prefer starting kneading with my stand mixer and finishing this dough by hand, to make sure to incorporate all of the ingredients nicely. Forming the little breads are as easy as it could be, just make pieces of the same size (to make sure everything is baked through at the same time) and simply press it into logs, the more uneven the more rustic.
- 800 g / 28.2 oz. all-purpose flour, more for dusting and forming
- 150 g / 5.3 oz. rye flour
- 1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
- 500-600 ml / 2⅛ – 2 ½ cups water (lukewarm)
- 1 ½ Tbsp. fine sea salt
- 1 tsp. granulated sugar
- 200 g / 7 oz. green olives, sliced
- 60 ml / ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ Tbsp. of each: dried oregano, basil, za’atar
- Remove the starter from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.
- Add the starter and the remaining ingredients for the dough into the bowl of your stand mixer with the hook attachment or knead by hand. Add only as much water as needed for a firm but smooth dough. Knead for at least 5 minutes. Dust with flour to prevent drying out, cover with plastic wrap and let stand on a warm place for 1 ½ to 2 hours.
- Dust your hands and counter top with flour before kneading the dough shortly. Cut into 10-12 pieces of about the same size. Form logs while pulling and stretching the pieces (the more uneven the more rustic).
- Preheat your oven to 220 C / 425 F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the logs on the baking sheet and let rest about 15 minutes, while oven preheats.
- Make cuts on the top of each little bread and bake 30 minutes. Let cool on a rack or serve still warm.