You ever just feel like there is a black cloud following you around and you just can’t shake it? Or worse – you’re the little black cloud?
I keep trying to put my finger on what’s wrong. Is it the stress of having another book come out? I love everything about our next book Mastering the Art of Vegan Cooking... I love very single one of the recipes we veganized from World War II, the Great Depression and Julia Child’s classic French cookbook. I love that it helps people eat vegan while saving money and reducing waste in their kitchens. I love all the research we did into how homemakers in the past found ways to “cut corners” and get more for their money and how we found ways to translate those tips and practices into a modern kitchen. I love the photos. I love the cover. I love that the project behind this next book saved me during the worst time in my life – after we lost Piper. It’s a deeply personal book too with a story behind it and an inspiring message about how we can’t change everything in our lives but we can take control of some things like our budget and lifestyle and turn them into a force for good in the world. We really wanted to show how empowering it is to be that force for good in the world. So why do I feel like that sad trombone sound from cartoons?
It’s a book I can’t wait to share but man – if there was any way I could do that without having to check plane ticket prices twice a day or figure out how to make food while staying at a hotel with a baby – I’d take it! Can we all agree being a muggle is the worst?
So I’ve returned to baking this weekend in an attempt to find my smile in loaves of bread… Yes, just like Nicolas Cage in Moonstruck*. I buried my woes in rising dough and do I feel better? I don’t feel bad… and now I have lots of bread! So much bread.
This recipe is one of my favorites and actually a recipe we first made and photographed awhile ago but are just getting around to posting. It’s easy while still being special and delicious… so everything you want in a recipe. We made it with large black Cerignola olives that were cut off the stone (pit) but you can use any black or kalamata olive as long as it isn’t oil-cured and still get a beautiful loaf of bread. It can be the foundation of a sandwich or is just great by itself with a little olive oil Earth Balance. If you’re a big time olive lover – you can also make a batch of Kale & Kalamata Olive Tapenade to go with it too. This recipe makes either 1 large loaf or 2 smaller ones. Directions below are for the 1 big loaf.
I should also tell you – just in case you are feeling a little like a little black cloud too – that the first like 5 episodes** of the new Netflix show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is absolutely delightful in a way only a show from Tina Fey*** and starring Ellie Kemper could be. I’ve been binge watching it to fill The Jinx**** filled hole in my life and in an attempt to save myself from the Hawaii 5-O/Vanderpump Rules Stockholm Syndrome I’ve developed and am not comfortable talking about yet. Please don’t judge me.
Black Olive & Rosemary Bread
1 package dry active yeast (I recommend using one that’s specialized for whole wheat bread if you can find it)
1 3/4 cups warm water
1/4 cup olive brine from your container of black olives
1/3-1/2 cup black olives, pitted or cut from the stone (pit)
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon diced fresh rosemary
2 pinches sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 cups bread flour, you’ll need more to dust your surfaces
2 cups whole wheat flour (if you don’t have whole wheat flour yeast – I’d recommend using substituting some of the whole wheat flour with bread flour to keep your bread from getting too heavy)
Margarine or vegetable shortening to grease your bowl
Cornmeal for dusting your baking sheet or pan
In a small bowl, let your dry active yeast dissolve in the warm water for about 3-5 minutes. Stir occasionally to break up any clumps of yeast that might form.
Once your yeast has dissolved, mix all your ingredients including yeast in a large mixing bowl using an electric hand-held mixer with bread hook attachments until completely blended. Your dough will be sticky so be careful if you’re mixing it using any other attachments besides the bread hooks… this dough will crawl up into your machine pretty fast. It should take about 10 minutes for your dough to form. Don’t blend for more than 15 minutes to get the best rise from your bread.
Knead your bread on a floured surface for 8-10 minutes and form it into a ball. Grease your mixing bowl with margarine. Return your dough to the mixing bowl. Cover with a clean tea towel and put in a warm spot to rise for 1 hour. Your dough should double in size.
With a single little baby punch in the center, deflate your dough. Then cover and let rise again for about 30 minutes. Then move to a floured surface and form into your loaf of bread gently. You don’t want to handle your dough too much. Place your loaf of bread on a baking sheet or pan that’s been dusted with cornmeal. Using a serrated knife, cut a very shallow slit down the center. Place a tea towel over the top and put your baking sheet on your stove top to rise while your oven preheats at 400. Let rise for another 30 minutes. The heat of the oven will help your dough rise.
Once our oven is hot, place a baking sheet with a lip or large casserole dish with a shallow (about an inch – inch and half) of water in it on the bottom rack of your oven. This is to create steam while you’re baking to get that nice shell on your bread. Put your baking sheet with your loaf of bread on the top rack of your oven to bake for 45-minutes to 1 hour. Check on your water pan every 5 minutes using the light in your oven so heat and steam doesn’t escape. Add more water as needed. Remove your water pan after 10-15 minutes because your yeast has set and now your bread needs dryer heat to bake properly. You’ll know your bread is done when it’s golden brown, you can thump the top and the bottom lifts easily from the sheet with a spatula.
The warmer your kitchen is the better your bread will rise so keep that in mind while you’re baking. Also metal mixing bowls retain heat better so we’ve found that helps too. Sorry if this is really obvious but we wanted to share.
* I know – I know – Every post on this blog is all about how my life is like a Nicolas Cage movie. What can I do?
** I’m only 5 in – it might go down hill from here… who knows? Life can be mysterious sometimes. Isn’t that exciting and not annoying at all?
***Have any of you watched this yet? Can we all just shake our heads in amazement and let out a collective gasp?!