There is a mysterious aura surrounding bread baking at home. It is sometimes presented as more complex than it really is. With this recipe, you will be diving in the “deep end” of bread baking, but fear not. The straightforward and step-by-step instructions will turn you into an artisanal bread-baker overnight. Don’t even think about using a mixer.
It’s not artisanal if you don’t do it by hand, so you can go ahead and brag about it. Little will your dinner guests know that the process was so simple it wasn’t worth using a machine and adding to your cleaning up.
You will need a very small amount of fresh yeast, the very best quality natural olives to contribute their mild fruity flavor, and a lot of patience to prepare the dough of your Latrovalis Artisanal Olive Bread. You will not have to knead the dough at all, but just “fold” it three or four times. The more times you fold it, the fluffier it becomes. Most importantly, the dough needs to rest for a total of 12 hours in order for the flavours to develop completely. The best solution is to let it rest overnight.
The ingredients are for a large loaf. You can reduce the quantities for a smaller loaf or increase them for a larger loaf. The only thing you need to remember are the correct analogies. This is a high hydration bread, and the weight analogy of flour to water must always be 10 to 8. As for the flour, you can use anything from all-purpose to whole-wheat and anything in between.
500 gr / 18 oz flour
400 gr / 14 oz water
3 gr / 0.1oz fresh yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
11/2 teaspoons salt
1 jar Latrovalis Natural Olives (200gr / 7.05 oz)
1 tablespoon oregano
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Heat half of the water slightly until it is warm enough to touch and place it in a large glass or metal bowl, bearing in mind that the dough will rise substantially. Add the yeast and stir until it completely dissolves in the water. Add approximately a third of the flour and the sugar and stir thoroughly with a beater. Place the bowl in your oven, which you have heated very little to reach a temperature of no more than 400 C / 1000 F, and allow the mixture to rest for at least 30 minutes. This will activate the yeast.
Cut the Latrovalis Natural Olives into small pieces (3 to 4 pieces per olive), big enough so that they will eventually be evident in the bread. Dissolve the salt in the remaining water. Remove the bowl from the oven and stir in all the other ingredients. Stir the dough by hand until all the ingredients have been well incorporated into a very sticky dough. Return to the slightly heated oven and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Remove the bowl of dough from the oven. Keep a small container of water nearby. Hold the bowl with one hand, dip the other hand in the bowl of water to moisten it. Form your moistened hand like a scoop and dip it into one side of the bowl. Scoop up as much dough as you can handle, lift it, and fold it over the rest of the dough. Repeat the procedure, every time moistening your hand with water, until you have folded the dough from four different sides of the dough. Replace the bowl of dough in the slightly heated oven. Repeat this procedure three or four times allowing a minimum of 30 minutes between each fold.
After the third or fourth fold, let the dough rest until the total 12-hour resting time is completed. Don’t worry if you need to let it rest for longer until you find time to bake it. The more it rests, the better flavour it develops.
Ideally, you will need a Dutch oven, but any large baking vessel with a lid will do. The goal is to start baking your bread in a covered vessel so that the moisture will not escape and help the bread rise while baking.
Remove the bowl of dough from the oven, place the empty baking vessel with its lid in the oven and heat to 2500 C / 4800 F. Line a clean container of equal size to the bowl with parchment paper big enough to extend outside the container and empty the dough on the parchment paper. Leave it in a warm place for a final rest. This is where you will need the help of an assistant. When the oven has heated completely, quickly remove the burning baking vessel from the oven and close the oven door so as not lose a lot of heat. Place the burning baking vessel on a surface that can withstand the intense heat, remove the lid carefully, and with the help of your assistant grab the four corners of the extending parchment paper with the dough and place it into the burning baking vessel. Cover with the lid and quickly put in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, open the oven door and quickly, but carefully, remove the lid from the baking vessel. Turn down the heat slightly to 2200 C / 4300 F and allow to bake for another 20 minutes.
Remove the baking vessel from the oven, and carefully remove the bread. Let it cool on a rack.
A final word of warning: Your Latrovalis Artisanal Olive Bread will not be like anything your dinner guests have tried before, so make a larger loaf!