Prep 24 hrs
Cook 1 hr 25 mins
Unlike the typical olive bread with rosemary, this Cypriot version uses cilantro, mint and chives. Adapted from _Kneadlessly Simple_ by Nancy Baggett.
- 21 1⁄4 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more as needed (4 1/4 cups)
- 1 3⁄4 teaspoons table salt
- 3⁄4 teaspoon instant yeast or 3⁄4 teaspoon fast rising yeast or 3⁄4 teaspoon bread machine yeast
- 2 cups ice water, plus more if needed
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives or 2 tablespoons finely chopped scallion tops
- 1⁄4 cup good-quality olive oil, plus more for brushing dough tops
- 1⁄4 cup chopped kalamata olive (drain well before chopping)
- 3 tablespoons cornmeal, for dusting baking pot
- In a large bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, salt, and yeast. In another bowl or measuring cup, vigorously whisk together the water, cilantro, mint, and chives. Stir the mixture into the bowl with the flour until the dough is just lightly mixed. Then add the olive oil, scraping down the bowl sides and mixing until thoroughly blended. The dough should be very stiff; if necessary, add in enough more flour to stiffen it. Gently stir in the olives until evenly distributed throughout. Brush the top with oil. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap. If desired, for best flavor or for convenience, you can refrigerate the dough for 3 to 10 hours. Then let rise at cool room temperature for 12 to 18 hours.
- Using an oiled rubber spatula, lift and fold the dough in towards the center all the way around until thoroughly loosened from the bowl; don't deflate any more than necessary. Evenly brush the inside of a 3 1/2- to 4-quart Dutch oven or other heavy pot or large, deep, flat-bottomed ovenproof casserole with olive oil. Add the cornmeal, then tip the pot back and forth to distribute it on the sides. Invert the dough into the pot; don't worry if it's ragged-looking or lopsided. Shake the pot to center the dough. Brush the surface with olive oil. Top the pot with its lid.
- For a 1 1/2- to 2 1/2-hour regular rise, let stand at warm room temperature; for a 1- to 1 1/2-hour accelerated rise, let stand in a turned-off microwave along with 1 cup of boiling-hot water; or for an extended rise, refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours, then set out at room temperature. Let rise until the dough has doubled from its deflated size.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F Bake on the lower rack, covered, for 55 to 60 minutes or until crisp and lightly browned. Brush the loaf with olive oil and continue to bake, uncovered, testing until the top is well browned and a skewer inserted in the thickest part comes out with just a few crumbs on the tip (or until the center registers 207 to 208 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer), 12 to 15 minutes longer. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes more to ensure that the center is done. Cool in the pot on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the loaf and remove it to the rack; let cool completely.
- This loaf tastes good warm, but will cut better when cool. Cool completely before storing. To maintain the crisp crust, store draped with a clean tea towel or in a heavy paper bag. If stored airtight in a plastic bag or foil, the crust will soften, but can be crisped by heating the loaf, uncovered, in a 400°F oven for a few minutes. The bread will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days, and may be frozen, airtight, for up to 2 months.