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Mediterranean Olive Bread

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Mediterranean Olive Bread

- Merrill

The third bread recipe in this no-yeast series is special to me not just because it's great, but because it's one of the recipes I cut my teeth on. During my senior year of college, I lived off campus with two of my best friends, and for the first time we all completely signed off the campus meal plan. At the beginning of the year, I was given a copy of The Joy of Cooking -- I think by my mother, who has been responsible for some of my most formative kitchen gear. And thus began my first official foray into the kitchen. My roommates -- understandably partial to those recipes that afforded us all a full meal -- were fond of dishes like Chicken Cacciatore and Beef Stroganoff, but I often found myself drawn to the Quick Breads section. Especially when there was an exam to study for or a final paper to write.

This section contained a well-rounded selection of both savory and sweet breads, all without yeast -- perfect for instant gratification on those late, late nights. My favorite was a tender, crumbly olive loaf flecked with rosemary that could be thrown together in mere minutes. The original recipe called for walnuts, which I omitted, opting instead to up the chopped olives a bit.

When I decided to do this series, I was reminded of this beloved olive bread, which I hadn't made in over ten years; I’m happy to say it’s just as good as I remembered. What's more, it keeps for a few days if it's well-wrapped, and it makes excellent toast.

Mediterranean Olive Bread

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Serves 8

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted imported olives (I used kalamata)

1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 350º F.  Grease a 6-cup loaf pan.  

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, rosemary, and salt. In a large bowl, stir together the eggs, milk and olive oil. Add the flour mixture and fold until about three quarters of the dry ingredients are moistened. Add the olives, and fold just until the pieces are distributed and the dry ingredients are moistened; the batter will be stiff.

3. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.  Let cool in the pan on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes before unmolding to cool completely on the rack. Serve with olive oil for dipping.

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