Makes 2 Loaves
• 1 cup cool water
• ½ teaspoon dry yeast (2 teaspoons if using cake yeast)
• 2 ¼ cups flour
• ¾ cup cool water
• 1 teaspoon dry yeast (2 teaspoons if using cake yeast)
• 1 to 2 cups flour (close to 1 if using bread flour, closer to 2 if using all-purpose flour)
• 1 ½ cups pitted black olives, roughly chopped
• 1 teaspoon salt
To make the sponge, in a mixer fitted with a paddle or dough hook and set to medium speed, mix the sponge ingredients until totally blended. It will be a bit soupy. Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let the sponge sit anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. The longer it sits and ferments the better the flavor.
Put the sponge back into the mixer set to medium speed. To make the dough, add the cool water and the dry yeast. Mix for about two minutes. Little by little, add 1 to 2 cups of flour. Keep adding flour until the dough begins to pull away from the bowl. You may not need to add all the flour to reach the proper consistency. The mixing time should total about 15 minutes. You’ll end up with a soft, loose dough that is a bit sticky. Mix in the salt only at the end. If you have an instant-read-thermometer, it should read about 77° to 80° F.
Sprinkle flour on your counter or “bench”. Place the dough on the counter and sprinkle a bit more flour on top. Knead it for a minute, then gently stretch the dough out on the counter, until it forms a rectangle about the size of a sheet pan. Cut the dough into two pieces. Press the dough down gently with your fingers. Cover with a kitchen towel and let sit 1 hour. Sprinkle flour on the top, punch/press dough down with your fingers, and flip it over; cover for 30 minutes more.
Preheat the oven to 475° F.
Press the dough into a rectangle and place ¾ cup olives along the long edge on the bottom two-thirds of the dough. Fold the dough like a letter) note that they’re not mixed into the dough itself). Repeat with the other piece of dough.
Place the dough seam side down and cover. Let rise again for 20 minutes.
Place on a sheet pan and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, possibly as long as an hour. After 35 minutes, test to see if the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. When it does, it’s ready. Remove from the oven and let the bread cool down to room temperature before slicing.