Friday, March 4, 2011

Olive Bread

A few months ago a friend gave me some starter. I'd tried to make a starter from scratch once and it was an epic failure. I pretty much pushed it to the back of my mind after that fiasco. Now I'm all about the bread baking! It took me a while to get the hang of how often to feed the starter and all that jazz.  I even sort of almost killed it once but luckily I was able to bring it back to life. This stuff is resilient! Apparently this is a really old starter that originated in San Francisco decades ago. I don't know if that's true or that's just what he told me because I would get more excited about starter. Either way, I like believing it.

I wish I could eat this picture. I need more olive bread.

I made bread once a few months ago with this crazy convoluted recipe that took 3 days to make a loaf of sourdough. Yeah, I said 3 days. You pretty much had to be at home for all 3 days, too. It was such a pain in the butt that I didn't want to make bread anymore. I mean, really, who has that kind of time?! Then another friend of mine told me about Tartine Bread.

This book is greatness if you're wanting to start baking bread and aren't sure where to begin. Not only does it tell you how to create your own starter, but there are a myriad of recipes for bread. I haven't even started looking at the middle and end sections. I've just been focused on the Country Bread and variations. This is pretty much a basic bread made with starter. Here's what's cool about this particular book. There are a TON of really, really helpful photos for every single step of the way. The instructions are very detailed and so wonderful if you're unsure of what you're doing. This is probably the most instructive cookbook (without being confusing) I've ever seen.

The only caveat is that you need a scale. I'm heading out to buy one this week so I can make polenta bread this coming weekend. In the meantime I just googled how much flour and water were the weight it said to use. I had to guess at how much starter to use. Even though my bread came out alright, I know that my dough was much too wet. If I had weighed my ingredients it would have come out even better. Next time!

Waiting for my dough to rise.

So now I have starter and I have instructions. What's a girl to do? Obviously the answer was to make olive bread. If you don't live at my house you probably don't know how much James and I love olive bread. And really if you're not him or me or one of our cats you don't live at our house, so how could you know?! There is a local bakery in Vancouver that makes olive bread that we can get at the market just down from our apartment. We can devour a loaf of that stuff in no time flat. Some days we both just sit there wishing we were eating olive bread until finally one of us goes and gets some. That stuff is like crack. You can understand why that was my first inclination upon buying this new bread book.

Make olive bread I did! I chopped up a mixture of green and kalamata olives, threw in some lemon zest, and herbes de provence. Basically I followed the recipe for olive bread in the book. I wouldn't have considered adding the lemon zest on my own, but wow, it was a great addition. The bread came out so delicious. I can't wait to make it again. I forgot to take a photo of a cut piece of bread, but it had those awesome big air holes in it! I've never really had bread do that before so it was pretty exciting.

Morning light bathing my olive bread in awesomeness.

Making bread with starter is a whole new world for me. I'm excited to try different things to make the bread taste more sour and adding different things to the bread. Many moons ago when I worked in restaurants, one of my jobs at this one particular place was to make bread every day. I can make yeast bread without even thinking about it now. I just throw together flour, salt, yeast and water and eyeball it. That's what happens when you do it every day, I guess. I got really feisty and just started throwing random things into the bread. I remember tossing in some leftover chili once and making chili bread. hehe I'm looking forward to getting to that point with starter breads. It's going to be a fun adventure. My friend that suggested the Tartine Bread book bakes bread constantly. He and his wife have got the basic country loaf nailed. We're on the food bartering program now so I've gotten to take home some of their loaves before. Practice makes perfect, that's for sure.

I wonder what kind of bread I'll make next?


  1. Your bread looks awesome! I love sourdough breads and bake one almost every week. I am sure you'll get the hang of it soon.

  2. Oh man, I love olive bread SO much! I really really need to make some, I haven't eaten any in years!