Cheesy Olive Bread
Every few months, still, my sister Kate and I text each other about our 2008 trip to Spain. We remember the yellow-painted houses of Cordoba, the bread baked with ham inside it, and the olives. Most of all, we remember those olives.
Our favorite were big green olives–crisp, fresh, just a little briny. I wasn’t sure at the time, but I think now they were probably Manzanillas, one of Spain’s best. We went through huge platters of them while we drank beers or waited for our bread baked with ham inside.
It’s no surprise we continue to remember the olives we ate on that trip. Olives from Spain are a special breed! The country’s history is intertwined with growing olives; Spaniards have been tending the trees for 2000 years. Spain’s olive groves thrive in the Mediterranean south of the country, and many of the olives find their way into olive oil. But that’s not all they can do: Green olives, picked while ripening and brined, are perfect snacks. Spanish standouts are Gordals (which means “fatties”) and Manzanillas. Purplish-black olives, harvested when ripe, are fruitier and rich; shiny dark Cacereñas, for example, make salads exciting.
Most olives work beautifully in cooking, too. Their salty, fully flavored flesh gives food punctuation, whether it’s an otherwise mild chicken stew or a loaf of this cheesy bread. They deliver this punch without adding many calories–there are just 35 calories in 7 olives. Olives also contain monounsaturated fat, the “good” fat that can help lower cholesterol, as well as much-needed iron.
This bread brings that trip to Spain alive again in my kitchen. By stuffing bread dough with cheese and meaty green olives, then spiraling it all around to create a snail-like shape that distributes the stuffing evenly throughout the future loaf, you create the kind of scent and taste and texture that make you forget about everything else in the world except Spain, olives, cheese, and warm bread. It’s sort of like pizza that’s posing as a loaf.
Serve still-warm loaves with drinks–round out your appetizer board with the best olive oil and some contrasting olives, like these slightly spicy salt-cured little black ones or maybe some piquillo-stuffed green olives, a tapas standby. This post is sponsored by Olives from Spain – look for their logo when you’re buying olives at the store. It’s the first of two, so stay tuned for a recipe with black olives soon. All opinions—including my love for olives—are my own. See more about Olives from Spain here. Thanks for supporting BGSK and the sponsors that keep this site running!
- ½ cup whole wheat flour
- 2½ cups white flour
- ½ teaspoon yeast
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 1¼ cups water
- ½ cup coarsely chopped, pitted Spanish green olives
- 1½ cups finely chopped whole milk mozzarella (use the wrapped supermarket kind, not fresh)
- In a medium bowl, combine the flours, yeast, and salt. Add the water, and stir to form a dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 6 hours, until the top is bubbly.
- Dump out the dough onto a floured surface and divide in two, touching as little as possible. Press each ball into a rectangle about 14 by 7 inches. Scatter each with half the cheese and half the olives, leaving an edge around all sides. Lengthwise, roll the dough up into a long log, pinching to seal the ends. Squeeze the log outwards so it lengthens. Curl the dough around itself, snail-like, pinching the end of the dough to the loaf. You can use a little warm water to get the end to stick if needed. Flatten slightly. Repeat with other half of dough. Place on a cornmeal-dusted baking sheet, cover with a piece of plastic wrap, and let rise another 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 500°F. If you have one place a baking stone on a rack. When the oven is hot, slide the breads onto the stone.
- Put two ice cubes in a ramekin and place it on the rack below to create steam. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is brown. Let cool 30 minutes to 1 hour if you can before you cut in.
- Serve with olive oil for dipping and more olives on the side.