Olive Oil Bread

As promised, a post about delicious olive oil bread!  I always love restaurants that put bread on the table and then drizzle that stream of golden liquid for dipping (hey it’s the healthy kind of fat you’re soaking your bread in right!).  So when I saw a recipe that combined the two into one recipe, I knew I had to try it!   Make sure to start it early because this recipe uses what’s called a ‘Biga,’ or as what my chef calls it in baking class ‘Old Ass Dough.’  The latter gives you a little more insight into what you’re actually dealing with because that’s all it really is-old dough.  It kind of takes the place of a lot of breads that use starters because you add in dough that has already had a chance to ferment into your recipe.  To be the proud owner of your very own Old Ass Dough just mix some yeast, water, and flour together:

Old Ass Dough:

1¼ cups bread flour
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
½ cup water, at room temperature (you might need a little more or a little less depending on consistency)

Stir together the flour and yeast in a 4-quart bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). Add water a little at a time until your dough forms a ball. Adjust the flour or water until dough is neither too sticky nor too stiff.

Knead for 4 to 6 minutes until the dough is soft, with just a slight stick to it so you can still work with it.

Put dough in an oiled bowl and roll so that the whole ball of dough gets a slight coat in oil Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and ferment at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until it nearly doubles in size.  Place the bowl in the refrigerator overnight for use the next day or up to a couple days later.   You can also freeze for a couple months, just be sure to thaw completely and have a room temperature before using whether you freeze or refrigerate.

Mantovana Olive Oil Bread (adapted from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice and inspired to be made due to the yummy images on crumblycookie.net )

Makes one 1-pound loaf

1 recipe biga or Old Ass Dough
1 cup bread flour
¼ cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon instant yeast
½ teaspoon barley malt syrup (or since it’s rare to have this on hand, I think Molasses works just as well)
¼ cup water
¼ cup olive oil

Remove your Old Dough from the refrigerator and leave out until at room temperature and then cut into several small pieces.

Stir together the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in a bowl. Add the biga pieces, olive oil, barley malt, and water, and stir together or mix with the paddle attachment in your mixer until a ball forms, adjusting the water or flour if needed so the dough is soft but not too sticky

Knead in the mixer with a dough hook for about 10 minutes or by hand for a little longer until the dough can stretch without breaking apart.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let ferment at room temperature for a couple hours.

Gently pat the dough into a rectangle. Fold the ends of the rectangle into the center and use your hand to seal the seams so it comes to an oblong shape with the two ends tapered.  Seem side down place the baguette on a pan covered with parchment paper and sprinkled with cornmeal.  Let rise again for another hour or a little longer.

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees and go ahead and make about 3 slashes in the top of your bread to score.

Now I have learned in Baking class very early on that certain breads require a steaming element to cook which will give it that nice crispy crust and moist center.  Since I don’t have those fancy ovens, this is how you can attempt to do it at home.  Put a sheet pan in the top of your oven while it is pre-heating and boil a little bit of water.  Go ahead and transfer your scored bread to a baking stone if you have one or if not a baking sheet will work too.  Pour your boiling water into the hot pan and close the over for about a minute.  Turn the oven down to 450 for another 20 minutes.  Cool completely.

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One Comment on “Olive Oil Bread”

  1. Bridget Says:

    Ooh, olive oil bread…I should make that again, and this time use a biga! I love that extra flavor.


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