Sometimes that's all it takes for me to start working on a new recipe. I liked the olive bread, but I knew that anything I made would be better.
I wanted more than just olives, and settled on rosemary as an additional flavor. And then I spied a jar of feta cheese packed in liquid in my fridge. I decided that both the feta and the liquid would be good in the bread.
If your feta cheese doesn't come in a liquid, just use water. If your feta is packed in liquid, taste it before you use it. It should taste sweet and milky and just a little bit salty. If it's a very salty brine, your yeast won't be happy, so use water instead.
I used dried rosemary because I didn't have any fresh on hand, and I chopped it up a little finer. I wanted it well distributed, and I also didn't want any long rosemary needles in the bread. You could also bash it in a mortar and pestle, or whiz it in a spice grinder.
This bread cooks in a Dutch oven starting in a cold oven. It sounds a little strange, but it works well. It's similar to the method used for baking in a clay baker, which could shatter if it went into a hot oven. In this case, there's no danger of breaking your cast iron, but the method has several advantages.
Last, and most important on a hot summer day, if you start baking in a cold oven rather than preheating, your oven is on for a much shorter time. And if you don't want to turn your oven on at all, this works very well on a grill.
If you don't have a Dutch oven, or your oven is on for another purpose, just form the loaf the way you want to, let it rise fully, and bake as you normally would.
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, chopped
2 1/2 cups (13.75 oz.) bread flour (divided)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped
Additional bread flour, as needed
In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine feta liquid, water, yeast, sugar, rosemary, and 1 cup of the bread flour. Cover and set aside for 15-20 minutes at which time it should be light and airy.
Add the rest of the bread flour and salt, and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Add the olive oil, feta, and olives and continue kneading until the olive oil is completely incorporated into the dough and the feta and olives are well distributed.
After 15 minutes, the dough won't be doubled, but it should be about halfway there. Cover the Dutch oven and put it into your cold oven. Set the heat for 400 degrees and set your timer for 50 minutes.
After 50 minutes, check the bread. It should be a golden brown. If it's not brown enough, take the cover off and let it bake for an additional 5-10 minutes.
Remove the bread from the Dutch oven and let it cool completely on a rack before slicing.
This also appeared on Serious Eats and had been submitted to Yeastspotting.