December 9, 2011

Olive Oil Bread

by IsaChandra

Makes one 16 inch loaf

There’s no greater comfort than the aroma of freshly baked bread. I believe that is a scientifically proven fact.

I’m no master artisan bread baker — not by a long shot! But I can pull off a few loaves, and this is one of my favorites. It’s not passed down through generations or anything fun like that. In fact, it’s just something I got off AllRecipes or some such useful website a handful of years ago and tweaked until I got my idea of the perfect bread for soup.

I love a lot of things about it: for one, the ease. I started having pain in my left hand a few years ago and so I don’t want anything that I have to knead by hand. This works just perfectly in a standing mixer using a dough hook. Also, the ingredients are super simple; things that anyone who wants freshly baked bread should have around at all times. The olive oil provides a subtle sweet aroma that just makes it smell and taste even more warm and inviting.

But what I really love is the texture! It’s got an almost biscuit-like quality. I love to rip into a chewy crust as much as the next guy, but sometimes with soup I prefer a crisper bite. When lightly toasted, it makes a fabulous crouton. I love to drizzle with just a tiny bit of olive oil and place atop my bowl o’ soup.

And even though I’m a self-admitted non-master artisan bread baker, I do have a few tips for the home baker!

For one, temperature is important to activate the yeast. Things should be on the warm side – that includes the equipment. If it’s very cold in my kitchen I make sure to warm my mixer bowl up either by a brief stint in the oven, or running under hot water. Same goes for the bowl that the bread rises in. I use a glass bowl, so I can even microwave it for 30 seconds to get it warm. Note: Not hot, just warm!

I also set the bread to rise where ever is warmest. If I’m doing a lot of cooking and baking and my oven is still warm, then often just leaving it on top of the stove will do. But sometimes I place it in my bedroom to rise, because it gets the most sun. An added bonus…your room will smell like bread!

And I have a few tips for forming the loaf. After the first rise, I don’t punch the dough down and knead again. Instead, I gently lift the dough out onto a clean surface and I form a long oval loaf shape. Then I roll the bread out like a rolling pin, shaping as I go to keep the ends round, until it reaches the desired shape.

I think this is a great recipe to start off with if you’re new to bread baking! If you do it often enough, you can just be making the bread in the background, letting it knead away while you multitask on something else. It just becomes second nature after awhile. The most important thing is to get started, don’t be intimidated and try it once. Perhaps before you know it you’ll just become the kind of person that bakes their own bread.

Oh and one last thing: I’ve had great success replacing a cup of the AP flour with spelt, so try that if you’re looking for a heartier loaf.

3/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons )
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for the bowl and drizzling)
2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

Add water and sugar to the workbowl of a standing mixer fit with a dough hook. Sprinkle in the yeast and let sit for 5 minutes.

Mix in the olive oil.

Add 1 cup of the flour along with the salt. Mix on low until well incorporated, and then turn the speed up to medium and mix for 3 minutes.

Add another 1/2 cup of flour and mix well, starting on low and then switching to medium speed. Then add another 1/2 cup of flour, again starting on low and switching to medium. Knead on medium for about 5 minutes. You may occasionally have to get in there with your hands if the dough starts climbing up the hook. It should become smooth and elastic and slightly sticky. At this point, incorporate flour by the table spoon, until it is no longer sticky. When it starts to seem dry, stop adding flour. This could be anywhere between 1/4 and 1/2 cup. Knead again on medium until it is smooth.

Meanwhile, drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil into a large bowl. The dough will double in size, so make sure you have enough room. Form the dough into a ball and place in the bowl, tossing it around to coat with oil. Cover the top in plastic wrap and put in a warm place. Let dough rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size.

Now gently remove the dough from the bowl and place on a clean, dry surface. I don’t ever have to flour the surface, but if it seems sticky or the surface is very warm, you may need to. Gently form the dough into a long oval. Now roll out and form a loaf that is roughly 14 inches long and 4 inches wide.

Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Score it across the top in three diagonal slices, drizzle with a little olive oil and let rise for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 375 F.

Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 F and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Use tongs to check the bottom, if it seems to be browning too much, then transfer the bread directly to the oven rack for the remaining baking time.

It’s sometimes tough to know if the bread is baked perfectly, but the outside should be golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before slicing in. If the inside is a little undercooked, no worries, just note that for next time. Sometimes there is trial and error involved when baking a new bread.

Slice and serve! Wrap up any remaining bread (as if!) with plastic wrap to keep fresh.

  • December 9, 2011 at 9:21 pm: Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    i’ve been wanting to try this for a while!

  • December 9, 2011 at 9:27 pm: stormykins

    Looks like a great recipe!

    I’m a convert of Saf’s instant yeast (the kind that comes in a vacuum packed brick). Eliminates the proofing step entirely.

    After hemming and hawing I also bought a breadbox recently. Life changing.

  • December 9, 2011 at 10:29 pm: Hapax Legomenon

    Is there a good way to go about this recipe if you lack a stand mixer and dough hook?

  • December 9, 2011 at 11:20 pm: Elizabeth

    @ Hapax – I don’t have one and whenever a recipe calls for less than 10 minutes of kneading, I just do it by hand while watching TV. It passes the time, gives you a nice light arm workout and really isn’t as horrible as it might seem (I make pizza dough once a week and it calls for 8 minutes of kneading, I’ve never found it excessive).

    • December 9, 2011 at 11:55 pm: IsaChandra

      I agree! I’d be kneading by hand if I didn’t have this injury.

  • December 9, 2011 at 11:26 pm: Noelle

    That looks absolutely gorgeous—and I agree that there’s no reason to be intimidated by bread-making.

    One thing I miss, being gluten-free, is kneading bread dough! If a recipe calls for 10 minutes of kneading, I find 100 “kneads” works just about perfectly.

  • December 9, 2011 at 11:30 pm: William

    This looks a ton like a baguette, but a lot less complicated. I have been using the Julia Childs recipe for that and it calls for 1,000 whacks and turns in the kneading process, which is fun but time consuming. It also calls for yeast from a brick, but I just ignore that.

    Any chance on getting a recipe for rye bread? All of my attempts at that have been a disaster, although people have been loving my wheat bread.

  • December 9, 2011 at 11:36 pm: Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles

    My boyfriend’s favorite food is bread. Any that I come across I always have to make!

  • December 10, 2011 at 1:05 am: Mathew

    Mark Bittman describes his olive oil bread the same way (biscuity) in his book How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I made this two or three times this past summer since it’s so quick and easy.

    • December 10, 2011 at 1:10 am: IsaChandra

      Oh funny! I guess it’s the nature of olive oil breads…?

  • December 10, 2011 at 4:20 am: Julia

    Do you think I could make this with whole wheat flour?

  • December 10, 2011 at 4:52 pm: Susanne

    A few questions:
    Echoing an earlier question–any adjustments you’d make with whole-wheat flour?
    Would around ten minutes of kneading by hand do the trick? I haven’t got a standing mixer.
    Aaaand, would adding some herbs like rosemary, or mixing in some chopped kalamata olives mess up the recipe, or do you think it’s safe to experiment?

  • December 10, 2011 at 6:19 pm: Yvonne

    I have some fresh yeast that I would like to use for this bread; how much should I use – and at what point should I mix it in?
    I love it that the second time it only needs to rest 15 minutes – will this short rising time change if I use fresh yeast?

  • December 11, 2011 at 5:09 am: Suzi

    How well would a dough like this lend itself to being made and left to sit overnight? It’s quite simple enough looking and I thought it might lend itself well to be made into rolls for Christmas.

    • December 11, 2011 at 5:51 pm: IsaChandra

      I think it would make great rolls. I’ve had it sit overnight accidentally and it was just fine.

  • December 11, 2011 at 3:53 pm: fimere

    C’est superbe !! Ton pain est sublime et délicieux à souhait
    bonne journée !

  • December 11, 2011 at 5:44 pm: Tapas

    I loooooove olive oil bread. I’ll give you a tip. :) Olive oil bread is the best bread to use when preparing gazpacho.

  • December 11, 2011 at 11:15 pm: Annie

    Looks superb! I am in love with olive oil bread. Tapas shares the same belief I see!!

  • December 13, 2011 at 12:24 am: JJ

    This bread turned out marvelously! Thank you so much for the recipe Isa! This is the most delicious soup-dipping bread ever, the olive oil makes it so flavorful. It was a great texture, and not difficult at all to make as far as yeast breads go. I definitely recommend making this!

  • December 13, 2011 at 12:26 am: JJ

    Oh, Also, I did knead it by hand (someone asked about that further up on this board). I kneaded it by hand for the 3 minutes then for another 5 or 6, until it was smooth (as the recipe indicated). Worked great!

  • December 13, 2011 at 3:17 am: dee

    I subscribed to your web page but I never got any new post in my e-mail box :( . Can you put me on your suscribers list. Thank you . I luv your books and website.

  • December 14, 2011 at 3:08 am: JJ

    I made this bread a 2nd time tonight: this time I subbed 1/3 cup potato flour for 1/2 cup of the all purpose flour. I had to add a few extra drops of water while kneading, but it turned out fantastic. Actually, I even forgot to turn the temperature down, but luckily I was watching the bread and took it out a few minutes early instead. DELICIOUS. Thank you Isa!

  • December 15, 2011 at 5:57 am: Janille

    Best Bread Ever! Thank you so much Isa! I get so happy when I come to this website and see a new recipe posted=)

  • December 15, 2011 at 9:34 pm: Mana

    completely adore this bread recipe!! soooo lovely. I made mine with 2 cups whole wheat flour & 1/2 cup all purpose with 3/4 cup of chopped basil and it was beyond delicious. Will most definitely bake again!

  • December 18, 2011 at 3:31 am: Amy

    I have a question about the bread hook on a standing mixer. I’ve never used the hooks on my mixer and I was wondering, when the recipe says to mix the dough and then knead it with the hooks, are you switching back and forth between the mixer paddle and the hooks, or are you kneading and mixing with the bread hooks? I usually just used the bread machine out of laziness, but homemade bread is just better.

    • December 18, 2011 at 7:11 am: IsaChandra

      I just use the hook attachment, not the paddle at all. Everyone once in awhile I get in there with my hands to switch it up, but no paddlin’.

  • December 19, 2011 at 4:59 am: Morgan

    Made this tonight. Totally hit the spot. Reminds me of the fresh bread my Italian grandma used to have fresh at every meal.

  • December 26, 2011 at 10:10 pm: Alex

    This bread was frickin delightful. I am not a bread baker, and I had my doubts while sending my misshapen loaf into the oven – however, it came out great! Biscuity and delicious. Will enter the regular rotation for sure!

  • December 27, 2011 at 7:08 am: Joy

    I made this to go with Christmas dinner at my in-laws, and everybody loved it. I kneaded it by hand, since my in-laws don’t have a standing mixer…no biggie. One thing that surprised me is that it made a pretty small ball of dough, so I ended up making a second ball. Very good bread. Everybody was impressed (because they usually eat Iron Kids bread and sweet potatoes from a can)!

  • December 30, 2011 at 4:20 am: Giovanni

    Hi there. I just bought a bread maker. Can this recipe be used in a bread maker? Thanks for anyone who can help !

  • January 6, 2012 at 12:27 am: Lavendergrey

    Yes, I would also like to know if there is a way to make it in a bread maker!! I’m so not a “hands on” bread maker and make all my breads in the bread maker. :)

    • January 6, 2012 at 6:00 am: IsaChandra

      I’m sure you could. I don’t have a bread maker though so I can’t say.

  • January 7, 2012 at 7:34 am: Shelly

    AWESOME!! Everyone at our family gathering LOVED this bread, and it was gone quickly. I even doubled the recipe! This bread is perfect warmed & dipped into soup. (I made split pea, and I also ate it with lentil soup.) Or it’s great toasted with Earth Balance spread on top for just a tasty treat. I am so impressed by this bread! My nephew & niece kept saying, “You really made this?!” Everyone was sure to stop & compliment me on the bread! (I thought the bottom looked too brown, but it wasn’t! The crust was the best part. This would make an awesome homemade crouton, for sure. Literally just began to drool.)

  • January 21, 2012 at 9:37 pm: Amanda

    I just made this and it turned out great! I was trying to save it for soup later on but may eat most of it plain! I kneaded by hand and thought the dough was very manageable.

  • February 5, 2012 at 5:37 pm: Lily

    I just made this-soo yummy! It was ready after about half an
    hour so I didn’t need to lower the temperature at all

  • February 8, 2012 at 8:16 am: Katherine

    I LOVE making bread. This makes me hopeful/optimistic that Vegan Loaves will soon be joining Vegan Cupcakes/Cookies/Pie on my shelf. Pleasseeee?

  • March 22, 2012 at 3:07 am: Michelle

    I made this tonight. I added rosemary and it was most excellent!

  • September 1, 2012 at 2:14 am: k8

    Hey Isa! We tried this recipe and oh my gosh it’s delish! And I used whole wheat flour accidentally, but it tastes ok. Well, I was wondering if I could maybe use this recipe and put in the other ingredients for gingerbread, to actually make ginger bread?

  • January 5, 2013 at 12:20 am: loren

    Couldn’t this be shaped into dinner rolls?

  • January 16, 2013 at 10:24 pm: Robin F.

    I have made this bread twice and I will admit, I can’t make bread worth a damn!!! I have a friend who is a professional pastry chef who has tried helping me in the past but to no avail :( But thanks to you, I made a baguette my pastry chef friend can proudly weep over ;) I have done BOTH versions with just the APF and the APF/spelt flour combo and they both come out perfect! This bread is hard to screw up! Hell, I even forgot to mix the olive oil in the beginning and had to add it during the kneading process and it was still good! This bread is REALLY hard to screw up!!! Thanks for making me look like a pro in the bread department <3

  • June 1, 2013 at 3:03 pm: apunc1

    I just put the dough out to rise. I’ve made this bread a few times before and it really is very good and easy to make. I don’t use a mixer and the dough comes together for me with 2.25 cups of flour. i place the bread to rise in an oven that’s been on 400F for a few minutes to create a hot spot. I find I like these breads that have a short second rise.

    Does anyone know what kind of breads the short rise benefits or can I do this with any bread? pull apart rolls are my favorite and they have the stickiest dough + two short rises.

  • June 16, 2013 at 5:55 pm: Annie

    Would it be okay to just knead this all by hand since I don’t have a bread hook or stand mixer?

  • September 9, 2013 at 4:52 am: mary

    Love this bread! I bake with whole spelt flour and my own hands and it is so good! Super easy to make and I already made a couple of times! Thanks Isa!

  • October 5, 2013 at 7:52 pm: LN

    What kind of Flour, Wheat or White????????????????

  • February 28, 2014 at 5:53 pm: Valentina

    It’s gorgeous! I’ve made it twice.

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  • November 19, 2014 at 12:06 am: Caitlin

    Hopefully people with 8 million questions read this. I made this tonight as recipe # 126/145 as I cook my way through Isa Does It. I do not have a stand mixer. I warmed the bowl I used and mixed the beginning ingredients with a fork until I could no longer use it and needed to use my hands. I kneaded nearly all of the flour into the dough and then continued to knead more. After rising I rolled mine out and then overworked it ’cause it just wasn’t right and redid the whole thing until it was a disaster and looked nothing like the photo. But you know what?? It turned out great! I know, I was shocked. Try the recipe, make it work.