Parmesan-Olive Bread

Reader Contribution by Wendy Akin
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Recently, I tasted a little sample of a Parmesan bread at an upscale store; it was so bland, I couldn’t taste any parmesan in it. So, yesterday when I turned out the dough for my Easy Bread, instead of washing the bowl, I just reloaded it. Thinking of future plans, I made my own version of the disappointing bread I had sampled.

Mine really tastes of the parmesan and has the added flavor interest of the olives. It will be ideal on a cheese platter, perfect for a turkey sandwich, or with any pasta meal.

If you can’t get the shriveled oil-cured olives, you can use other black olives, but be sure to blot them as dry as possible so they don’t “weep” into your dough. The Parmesan should be freshly grated from a wedge.

Parmesan-Olive Bread Recipe


• 20 ounces bread flour (about 5 ½ cups)
• 1 tsp sea salt
• 1 tsp instant yeast
• ½ cup packed coarsely grated Parmesan cheese, the best you can afford
• ¼ cup oil cured black olives, pitted and cut in quarters
• 13 ½ ounces water
• a bit of your best extra virgin olive oil for brushing
• Optional: a couple grinds of the pepper mill


Day 1

1. Put the mixer bowl on the scale, turn the scale on and measure out the flour. Put the salt on one side of the bowl, the yeast on the other and give it a quick stir. Then stir the grated cheese and olives into the dry ingredients so every shred is coated with flour.  Reset the scale to 0 and pour in the water.

2. Using the dough hook of the mixer, run the mixer on “stir” and then on 2 until the flour is all taken up. Increase the speed to 4 for just a couple minutes. Walk away and do one of your other chores for five minutes. Back to the mixer, turn it on to 4 for another couple minutes then let it rest again. Repeat once more. The dough should be all on the dough hook.

3. Put out a big acrylic cutting board, put about a tablespoon of oil (I used olive oil) down and smear it around with one hand. Use your clean hand to detach the dough hook and bring it to the oiled board. With the oiled hand, pull the dough off the hook. Flatten the dough then stretch it from front to back. Do a “letter fold”, bringing the back of the dough to the center and the front over that so the dough is folded in thirds. Turn the dough and repeat.

4. Walk away again for 10 minutes then go back and stretch and fold again. And one more time: rest, fold twice. Now your dough is beautifully developed and you only spent 5 minutes in between doing other tasks. Put the dough back into the mixer bowl, cover the bowl with plastic and pop it into the refrigerator until tomorrow.

Day 2

1. Take the dough from the refrigerator and turn it out onto the oiled board. Form the dough into a ball by repeatedly tucking the sides under until the surface is smooth and round.  Put the dough onto a baking sheet – a nonstick pizza pan is great. If it looks at all rough, smooth the top with wet hands. Cover with your proof cover (mine is a plastic underbed box).

2. Allow the dough to rise, which will take about 3 hours because the dough was cold. If the house is cool, it could take even longer — give it time. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. When the loaf is nearly doubled, slash the top in your favorite style. Let it rise another few minutes until you see the slashes opening.

3. When your loaf is ready to bake, give it a quick spritz with water and into the preheated 450-degree oven. It will bake for 35 to 40 minutes until a thermometer inserted into the side of the loaf reads 200 degrees. Remove the loaf to a cooling rack and brush lightly with a bit of olive oil.

Option: a light grind with the pepper mill over the top of the loaf.

The aroma of this bread baking is incredible. It’s mouth-watering. Let it completely cool before cutting. I know it’s difficult to wait, but cutting a warm loaf can make it all gummy inside. Patience.

Note on Washing a Mixer Bowl

If you’ve made cookies, do wash the bowl with hot, soapy water. But if it’s bread dough in the bowl, fill the bowl with cool soapy water and let it sit. The dough will slowly dissolve so you can just pour it out. If you use hot water, you “cook” the dough and make it more difficult to clean.

Wendy Akin is happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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