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Green Olive Walnut Bread

I am sitting here at my computer completely in denial with the fact that it is already mid-January. Where is the time going? Luckily for us we are desperately looking forward to the changes that are forthcoming for us such as moving to Canada, starting a new job (still don't know what that may be), volunteering with the WWOOF program, starting my own garden (well if we get some property before growing season is over) and my newest idea is to go back to school and finally get the degree in culinary arts that I have dreamed of ever since I was a young girl. We shall see what the future has in store for us. There are so many options. But as far as right now, that brings me to this week's episode of my bread making self-challenge. All week I browsed recipes and finally decided on Green Olive Walnut Bread served warm with olive oil and sweet balsamic vinegar dipping sauce.

Fridays are long days, but since we have plans to be away from home for the rest of the weekend, I knew that I had to either make my weekly loaf of bread today or fail my personal new year's goal for the week. Since I am not usually a supporter of the latter option, I came home from work after a long, exhausting day and set to work. Since I didn't have a recipe for this kind of bread, I simply tweaked a basic bread recipe that I already had and spruced it up my adding more ingredients and love.

I have used this recipe several times before and have never had any problems with it. But today the dough was extra sticky and almost soup like. I continued to add more flour, almost doubling the amount required for the recipe. I am not sure what causes this sort of thing to happen but in the end extra flour did the trick. Usually I would let my dough rise for about an hour, but since it was Friday night and kind of late, I cut the rise time in half by placing the bowl of dough on top of the oven while it was preheating. This allowed it to rise quicker. Before putting it into the oven, I brushed it with some fine olive oil from Crete and some roasted garlic. After about 35 minutes the top of the bread was a nice golden brown. I opened the oven door and did the tap test to see if it sounded hollow inside .... perfect! Just a few minutes to cool and then we can cut into a slice of heaven. I always have to save a task for the cooling process to keep me from digging in full force to things right out of the oven. Self-control for freshly baked goods is not one of my strengths. So I left the preparation of the dipping sauce for now. Preparing a plate of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper took all of 30 seconds, but that was good enough for me. Time to cut a slice!

Now the thing I love about this recipe is that it produces a dense, slightly sweet slice of bread, a perfect complement to the salty olives. The outside is a little crispy, but the inside if very moist. The best part is that the basic dough recipe can be modified for your own likings. Some combinations that I have done before include: rosemary garlic, cinnamon raisin walnut, sesame seed, assorted herbs. As long as you don't add any liquid to the recipe, then you are pretty safe. The best part of this bread was that we saved the leftovers for breakfast the next morning topped with a thin layer of cream cheese.

If you want to try to make this bread here is the recipe:

Green Olive and Walnut Bread
1.5 cups white flour
1 1 / 2 tsp. active dry yeast
3 TBS sugar
3/4-1 cup warm water
Pinch of salt
1 / 2 TBS salt
1 / 4 cup green olives, chopped
1 / 4 cup walnuts, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 ° F or 177 ° C.
2. Put all dry ingredients in bowl along with the walnuts and olives. Mix with your hands.
3. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add water and mix. Begin kneading, adding more flour if the dough is too wet.
4. Add oil and knead for a few minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise.
5. Place on cookie sheet and brush with olive oil and roasted garlic.
6. Cook 30-45 minutes or until golden brown and hollow.

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