Easy Rustic Olive Bread

by Daniela

One of the cosiest things is when your kitchen smells of fresh bread. But making a bread at home might seem time consuming and tedious. Not with this recipe! The Easy Rustic Olive Bread is made in a similar to ciabatta method but is quicker and simpler. The result is a soft and very tasty bread that your whole family would love.

Easy Rustic Olive Bread cut on a wooden board

What ingredients do you need for this bread

This is a simple rustic bread so you need just a few plant based ingredients: all purpose flour, instant yeast, salt, a teaspoon of sugar, olive oil, green olives, and of course, water. You may use other kind of vegetable oil instead but trust me, there is nothing in the world like a bread made with extra virgin olive oil. In the current recipe the olive oil taste pairs wonderfully with the olives and the yeast and creates a unique flavour.

Easy Rustic Olive Bread cut on a wooden board

How to make a Rustic Olive Bread from scratch

I have to confess that my first intention for this recipe was to make an olive ciabatta. But I did not consider that the ciabatta technique is quite complex. In order to be created the typical air bubbles inside, the dough needs to ferment for a pretty long time and needs to be worked more than once. That helps the gluten to develop.
The easy olive bread does not require too long fermentation because we don’t aim for big air bubbles and strong gluten development. What we want here is to have a soft and delicious bread with nice olive taste and pleasant texture. In order to accomplish that perfect texture and flavour, we would need to create a preferment starter: a mixture of flour, yeast, sugar and water. The preferment in this case is made with more water than flour and stays for about one hour or so. That is much less time than with the classic preferments such as poolish and biga which usually ferment for over 12, sometimes even 48 hours. Breads made with a preferment have two main benefits: a better developed flavor and a longer shelf life.

How to make an easy rustic olive bread - preferment
In our case we want a relatively quick bread, so the whole process of preparation from scratch is about 3,5 hours. Trust me, despite starting with a long prefermentation, this bread is perfectly delicious and can stay fresh for 2-3 days.
The fermented starter dough needs to be mixed with the rest of the ingredients, except the olives. Using a stand mixer, knead the dough for about 15 minutes, until it starts pulling off the sides of the bowl. Then add the sliced olives and knead for few more seconds until they are absorbed in the dough. Flour the top of the dough as much as you can (it will be soft and sticky) and then cover the bowl with tea towels. Leave the dough for 1,5 hours at a warm place until it doubles its size. Then shape two loafs (they won’t look pretty but don’t worry) and place them on a large baking tin lined with a sheet of parchment paper. Bake for about 20 minutes until light golden.

Easy Rustic Olive Bread before being baked

If you want to learn more about the different classic preferments, check out this article: Preferments—and How to Adapt Any Bread Recipe to Use One

Can you make this bread with black olives

Definitely! The flavour will be slightly different but if you prefer black olives instead of green, you can certainly use them. You could also make this rustic bread without olives. Again, it will have a different taste.

Easy Rustic Olive Bread right after baking

How long can you keep this bread fresh

This bread can stay 2 days in an airtight container and even 3 days in the fridge. Before serving it, you can warm it up for 5 minutes in a preheated oven. The Rustic Olive Bread also freezes very well: you can keep it frozen for up to three months.

Easy Rustic Olive Bread with olives

Homemade olive bread is not going to be a challenge for you any more with this recipe! I honestly like this bread more than ciabatta. It is so tasty, you can enjoy it just plain.
And if you want to see more bread recipes, check out the selection below:

Easy Focaccia Bread Recipe
Easy Ricotta Breads
Easy Cheese Bread (Tutmanik)
Cheese & Olive breads

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Easy Rustic Olive Bread cut on a wooden board
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Easy Rustic Olive Bread

This Easy Rustic Olive Bread tastes better than chiabatta! With its soft texture and fantastic flavour, this bread is great to eat just plain.
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Resting time3 hrs
Total Time3 hrs 45 mins

Equipment

  • Mixer with dough attachment

Ingredients

  • 4 cups/ 500 g all purpose flour + more for flouring
  • 1 2/3 cups / 400 ml water
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon/ 7 g active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 cup/ 180 g green olives, chopped

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl combine 1 cup flour (120 g) with 2/3 cup lukewarm water (160 ml), sugar and yeast. Mix well to blend. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave it at a warm place for an hour - hour and a half to double or triple its size. This is the preferment starter.
  • Transfer the preferment to the bowl of a stand mixer or to a large mixing bowl if you are using a handheld mixer. Add the rest of the ingredients, except olives and water. Start mixing at a low speed and pour some water. When the dough starts pulling off the sides of the bowl add the rest of the water. Lower the speed of the mixer to the minimum, if needed. The dough will start splashing in the water but it will be soon absorbed. Knead with the mixer for about 15 minutes in total, until the dough starts puling off the sides of the bowl again. At this point add also the chopped olives and knead just for few seconds, until they are absorbed as well.
  • Flour the dough from the outside as much as possible (it will be very soft and sticky) and leave it in the bowl. Cover the top of the bowl with a sheet of parchment paper and wrap it all around with tea towels. Leave it in a warm place for an hour and a half - two hours.
  • Preheat oven to 390 degrees F/ 200 degrees C. Line a large baking tin with a sheet of parchment paper.
  • Take the dough carefully out of the bowl and cut it in two with a sharp knife. Shape two loafs (they won’t look neat and pretty but that is all right).
  • Bake for about 20 minutes or until the breads start becoming golden. Cover them with clean tea towel. Let cool for 15-20 minutes before serving them.

Notes

  • It is easier to knead the bread with a mixer but if you don’t have such, you can also use a wooden spoon. It might be a bit tiring for your arm muscles, though.
  • You can leave the preferment develop for a longer time. This will create more air bubbles inside the bread and potentially a thicker crust.
  • Instead of green olives you can also use black ones or skip them.
  • This bread stays fresh for 2 days in airtight container. If you keep it in the fridge this will increase its life with at least one more day. It also freezes very well for up to 3 months.
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