As with any homemade bread recipe, it takes time and patience. You need time to let the dough rise in a warm place. I have very fond memories of cooking with my grandmother in her kitchen. She would make the dough and cover it tightly and then let it rise. I remember in those days, my grandma and aunt would send the dough out to the local bakery or pizza place, because the dough was so big because it had too feed many children and extended family members. This is a nice twist on Italian bread. It’s made with white flour and whole wheat flour. The whole wheat flour provides a rich foundation for the olives, so it’s just as beautiful as it is delicious.
Combine the white and whole wheat flour in bowl. Add the salt and mix well. Then in a measuring cup add 1 cup of warm (must be warm) water and mix in the active dry yeast. Once it is thoroughly blended, create a well and add it to the middle of the flour. At this time I will add a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and about another 1/2 cup of warm water, maybe more, until the dough starts to form together. On a clean, floured ( use white flour, it’s very silky to work with) surface, maybe a pastry board, knead the dough with your hands for about 10 minutes. Transfer your dough to a large (the dough will triple in size) bowl with a little olive oil in the bottom. Tightly cover the bowl with clear wrap and then put a large towel over the bowl. Find a warm place, may by a sunny window and let the dough rise for about 1 hour.
After 1 hour, transfer the dough to a floured surface again, and punch out the dough (that’s a term for getting out the air). After about 5 minutes, you can add the finely diced kalmata olives and then fold them in. Avoid the liquid, it will make the dough soggy and you’ll have to add more flour. This has happened to me. Fold in all the olives really well, and let it rest. Shape into an oval onto a greased cookie sheet. Make about five or six deep slits into the dough and slightly soften each with your hand. Then, cover with clear wrap (slightly greased) and then a towel and let it rise again for 35 minutes.
At this point, you can heat your oven to 400 degrees. Remove the towel and clear wrap. Add some olive oil to the top of the bread using your hands to evenly distribute it. Add a sprinkle of sea salt, and put in the oven for 35-40 minutes. To test if it’s done, flip it over and knock on the bottom, if it sounds hollow it’s done (a dear friend of mine told me this trick) or if the bottom is really brown. Sometimes, I cut through the bread in the middle, just to be 100%, but it’s not necessary. Set it onto a cooling rack. It’s ready to eat! It makes a nice gift for someone you love, you can call it the OLIVE You bread. Whole Wheat Olive Bread