Sunday, July 15, 2007

Green Olive Bread - Two Ways

Sunday, July 15, 2007
I've had a hankering for green olive bread ever since I saw it at a bakery in Vancouver. I've intended to bake it for the last few weeks, but each weekend has been miserable--the kind of weather that makes you understand that "warm" is much too soft and cozy a word to describe global warming; that it means the weather could be godawful: hot, humid, and tropical. And this is Minnesota.
But this weekend the weather was wonderful, and it didn't feel sinful to turn on my oven, so I did. I used Rose's olive bread recipe, except that I substituted green olives (a combination of Sicilian, Picholine, and Cerignola) instead of black olives. Also, as I've been doing since I got my starter started, I add a glop or two of starter to the dough. I don't know how much difference it makes, but it doesn't do any harm.
On Saturday, I shaped a boule in my new banetton and baked it in the SteamMaker. A boule is supposed to have less of a blast of steam than a baguette, and more time under the metal cover than a baguette. This supposedly makes a crust that is crisp, yet chewy, rather than the baguette's shatteringly crisp crust. I didn't get my blast of steam immediately because Jim, who is in charge of the steam, wasn't ready when the bread was. I still have no complaints about the bread. We went to our friends the Millers' house for dinner, and brought a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine. The bread was more popular than the wine.

Today we needed a celebratory loaf of bread to go with the lovely French champagne we got to celebrate Sarah's graduation from college. As we like to say, she took the scenic route toward graduation, and, even though it took slightly longer than the traditional four years, she did it her own way, and cheers to her, I say. I decided to make a torpedo-shaped loaf in my new La Cloche Italian-bread baker. The olive bread does very well in this shape as well, and it popped right out of the floured La Cloche.

The bread baked in La Cloche may not get quite as golden brown as the one baked without it, but the texture may be slightly better, although it may also just be that this size is easier to slice than a round loaf. To go with the champagne, we got a few of Sarah's favorite snacks--Cambozola cheese and mascarpone with smoked salmon. James, Sarah's boyfriend, also dropped by and helped us celebrate. Sarah and I are very taken with our new game: if you had to change your name to anything other than what it is now, what name would you choose? Sarah and I keep changing our minds, as we think of new considerations. For some reason, Jim and James both think it's silly, and respond by saying, "But I like my own name and I don't want to change it." But by the time we'd downed the champagne and eaten the last crumb of bread, even they were feeling expansive enough to get in the spirit of the game.


Melinda said...

I bet the olive loaf was popular. It looks the ticket! Love the banneton rings.
I like the idea that Jim is in charge of the steaming. It's a mans job. He is the steam engineer... Sounds like he drives a train.
Congratulations to the graduate. Well done!
I would like to change my name to a Bond-girl type name. Something naughty and suggestive. A woman my age needs that. Something like Tilly Tartbanger.

Anonymous said...

So glad to see you posted! And yummy! Congrats to the graduate, and listen, next times someone in your family graduates...or celebrates a birthday...or gets a new job...or gets a new hairdo...or whatever, I swear I will be free for the celebration. All the goodies and the champagne sound divine!

I am actually getting married in a few weeks and debated on changing my last name, but in the end, I decided his sounded interesting and quite frankly, I am ready for a change...As a girl, I always said, "no way would I change my name for some boy" but now, seems fun!

Happy Days!


pinknest said...

oh god i am going crazy looking at this bread! i so want some. and i'll take that champagne, too.

Chubbypanda said...

Olive bread with Cambozola. That's my kind of pairing.

breadbasketcase said...

You know, Jim and I have to share this hobby. I make the bread; he takes the pictures. I put things on my wish list; he buys them. I put the bread in the oven; he steams it.
And, by the way, this "what name would you choose now?" is a serious game. You are not supposed to choose a name that would embarrass your daughter, like Tilly Tartbanger.

Congratulations! I hope everything goes well. The question of whether to change your name is an interesting one. The young women in our office have split about 50-50, and none of them is completely happy with her choice. When I got married (40 years ago), there was no question about keeping your own name. Only movie stars and communists did that.

Pink Nest,
You know you're welcome to drop by for bread and champagne whenever you're in town!

When I was buying Sarah's favorite things, I thought twice about the Cambozola because it seemed like a very unlikely match with olive bread. But it was actually very good.

Anonymous said...

Hi Marie,

I just discovered your blog a few weeks ago and I love it. You're so entertaining and hilarious. I wanted to ask you about how you get your olive bread crust (or any bread for that matter) to be crisp and crusty. I made the olive bread today and while it's tasty, the crust is soft. It might have come out of the oven firm and crisp, but upon cooling, it gets soft. I've made it in La Cloche and without, and it's always the same. This is the 3rd time.

Anyways, any advice you could give a fellow bread baker would be fabulous and forever appreciated.


breadbasketcase said...

Hi Rod,
Thanks for checking in.
We home bread bakers will never get the same crispy crust that a professional baker can get, but I've come close using a preheated pizza stone and steam in some fashion when you put the bread in the oven. The bread steaming contraption that you can get over the internet works well. Rose's method, to add ice cubes to a preheated pan in the bottom of the oven, and the boiling water method (adding boiling water to a preheated pan) both work too. I think that LaCloche doesn't make a crust that's as crispy but it's much easier. I always use my oven set on the convection setting, and, for some reason, I think that works better than the regular oven setting for getting the best crust.
Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hi Marie,

Thanks for the tips. Just out of curiosity, how long do your crispy crusts last? Mine don't last for very long. Is your crust lasting just a few hours or days?


breadbasketcase said...

The crust is crispiest right out of the oven, but it stays crisp overnight (unless the weather is humid). If I have any left over on the second day, I usually freeze it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Marie,

At least that gives me an idea of how long it's supposed to stay crispy. What brand/type of flour do you use with your breads generally? Your breads always look so beautiful.