Olive bread

Olive bread

Vanessa Levis

I picked up this recipe on a visit to Venice many years ago, when the sight of black olives in bread was a really new idea to me. Now we often make it when we go to my granddaughter’s farm; the smell of baking bread welcomes everyone and puts us in that country holiday mood.

The best way to serve it is cut into chunks for dunking into a good extra-virgin olive oil, or topped with soft goat’s cheese or a curled slice of prosciutto. Olive bread also makes a lovely base for savoury sandwiches and is good just sliced with ice-cold butter or your favourite dip.


Quantity Ingredient
600g plain flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons caster sugar
7g dry yeast
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups warm water
3/4 cup black olives, pitted and roughly chopped


  1. Sift the flour into a large bowl with the salt and sugar. Stir in the yeast. Make a well in the centre and add the pepper, olive oil and warm water.
  2. Gradually incorporate the wet ingredients into the flour mixture. Mix to a soft manageable dough, adding more water if necessary. Turn onto a floured surface and knead for 5–10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Incorporate the olives until mixed through evenly.
  3. Place the dough in a greased bowl and sprinkle with a few drops of water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then a tea towel. Leave in a warm place for 1 hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Grease and flour a baking tray.
  5. Lightly knead the dough again, and shape into two loaves, each 25 cm long. Place on the tray, sprinkle with a little flour and cover with a cloth. Leave for 30 minutes, until doubled in size, then make slashes on the tops of the loaves with a sharp knife.
  6. Bake the loaves for 20 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 180°C and bake for a further 20–25 minutes, until the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the uunderside and is well risen and golden.
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