Sun-Dried Tomato & Kalamata Olive Sourdough

April 18, 2021
9 Ratings
Photo by Maurizio Leo
  • Prep time 14 hours
  • Cook time 2 hours 20 minutes
  • Makes Two 900-gram loaves
Author Notes

Early this morning (like every morning) I stepped out to my little garden hoping to find just one ripe tomato ready to eat—not yet! The heat here in the Southwest slows everything down, keeping me well away from the tomato party, but I’m getting close. In an attempt to channel some of that vibrant tomato flavor usually so abundant during this time, I turned to the mighty sun-dried tomato preserved in olive oil. While these are a staple here in the winter months—I use them most often on sourdough pizza and in pasta—they’re also an incredibly delicious ingredient to mix into loaves of sourdough bread.

In this bread, the tomatoes bring an intense sweet-tart flavor, one which seems to subtly permeate the entire loaf. I also added chopped kalamata olives, which add a pleasant, briny note that magnifies the flavor of the tomatoes. (If you don’t have or like kalamata olives, Castelvetrano would be an excellent substitute.) And while these flavors sound like two heavy and rich mix-ins, I’ve included them in moderation—making this not so much an olive and tomato-stuffed loaf, but rather a savory, tangy, long-fermented sourdough with a complementary of flavors.

This is a rather straightforward naturally leavened bread, and it doesn’t require you to make a specific levain (an off-shoot of your sourdough starter); instead, simply use some of your ripe, liquid sourdough starter to get started.. This loaf tastes excellent sliced thick and topped with fresh mozzarella and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar; covered with a spread of ricotta; or simply dunked in fruity olive oil. To say it goes well with a plate of fresh pasta would be an understatement.

A note on mix-in preparation:

When weighing out the sun-dried tomatoes, don’t drain the oil clinging to the tomato (but try not to introduce too much additional oil). The oil brings additional flavor to the end loaf of bread and imparts a softness to the crumb and crust. I prefer chopping the sun-dried tomatoes into small pieces, to distribute little pops of sweet-tart flavor in each bit of bread.

For the kalamata olives, drain them of their brine and rinse with water to remove as much as possible. I prefer slicing the olives in half to ensure no pits remain, but this also gives them wider distribution throughout the loaf of bread. —Maurizio Leo

What You'll Need
  • 700 grams all-purpose flour
  • 124 grams whole wheat flour
  • 107 grams sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, drained (but not rinsed) and chopped
  • 115 grams kalamata olives, pitted, rinsed, and chopped
  • 15 grams fine sea salt
  • 576 grams water
  • 165 grams ripe sourdough starter (liquid)
  1. Mix the dough:

    When your sourdough starter is fully fermented and ripe, add the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, salt, water, and ripe sourdough starter to a mixing bowl. Mix everything by hand until no dry bits of flour remain. Stretch the dough up on one side and fold it over to the other, rotate the bowl some, and perform another fold. Continue to perform these folds for 2 to 3 minutes, turn the bowl a bit after each set, and strengthen the dough. At the end of mixing, the dough should be cohesive yet still shaggy and sticky (don’t worry about this—we will strengthen the dough further during bulk fermentation). Transfer the dough to another bowl or container for bulk fermentation.
  2. Bulk ferment the dough and add mix-ins:

    Cover the dough and let it rise at room temperature (72-74°F) for a total of three hours. During this time, you’ll give the dough three sets of “stretch and folds” to give it additional strength.

    Before giving the dough its first set, spread the chopped olives and sun-dried tomatoes (with residual oil) over the top of the dough in the container, tucking some slightly down the sides of the dough. Using wet hands, give the dough its first set of stretch and folds, which will help incorporate the ingredients into the dough.

    For each set, use slightly wet hands to grab the dough farthest from you in the container, stretch it up and over to the side nearest you. Then, grab the dough on the side nearest you and stretch it back up and over to the farthest side of the container. Repeat two more folds, one at the right side of the container and one at the left.—you’ll now have a folded up square in the container.

    Let the dough rest, again covered and at room temperature, for 30 minutes, stretching and folding again. Repeat this process one more time for three total sets. After the third set, let the dough rest for the remaining time in bulk fermentation.
  3. Pre-shape the dough:

    After three hours, your dough should have smoothed out and risen in the bulk fermentation container. It should show signs of vigorous fermentation, and that it’s ready to divide: You’ll see bubbles here and there, plus an overall smoother texture on the dough; if you gently tug on the dough, it’ll feel stronger and more elastic. Gently scrape out your dough to a clean, unfloured work surface and divide it directly in half. Using a bench scraper and your other hand (floured or wet with water), preshape each half of the dough into a loose round. Let the rounds rest, uncovered and at room temperature, for 30 minutes.
  4. Shape the dough:

    After 30 minutes, lightly flour your work surface and the tops of the dough rounds. Using a bench scraper and a floured hand, flip one of the rested rounds over to the floured work surface and shape it into a boule. To do this, fold the bottom one-third of the dough up to the middle. Then, fold the left side up and over to the center, and finally, repeat for the right side. Finally, fold the top up and over to the bottom of the dough, forming a dough shape that resembles a folded-up mailing envelope. Flip the whole thing over so the seam is on the bottom and use two hands to drag the dough toward your body as your pinky fingers create tension in the dough against the work surface. If the dough needs further tightening, rotate the round as you push it away from you, and drag again. In the end, the dough should have a consistently smooth and taut surface.

    Transfer each shaped round, seam side up, to an 8” proofing basket or clean kitchen bowl lined with a tea towel.
  5. Proof the shaped dough:

    Cover the baskets with a reusable, breathable bag and place them into the refrigerator overnight (for at least 12 hours). During this time, the dough will proof and be ready to bake the next morning or early afternoon.
  6. Bake the loaves:

    The next morning or afternoon , heat your oven to 450°F. Place an oven rack in the middle of the oven, and place a Dutch oven or combo cooker inside to heat inside the oven.

    Remove one of the baskets with dough from the refrigerator and uncover. Cut a piece of parchment paper to cover the opening of the basket and place it on top. Place a pizza peel or large cutting board (or even an inverted baking sheet) on top of the paper and flip the entire stack over. You’ll now have your dough, seam side down, on the parchment paper on the pizza peel. Use a lame (baker’s razor blade) or scissors to score the top of the dough. Remove the Dutch oven from the oven and place on a cooling rack on the counter. Then, carefully slide the dough into the hot Dutch oven by dragging the parchment paper (it’s OK for the paper to bake with the dough inside the Dutch oven).

    Place the pot back into the oven, cover with the lid, and bake at 450°F for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the top of the Dutch oven from the oven. Continue to bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, until the loaf is well colored and the internal temperature is around 206°F. Remove the pot from the oven, and transfer the baked loaf to a wire rack to cool. Return the Dutch oven to the oven, let it heat for 15 minutes, and repeat for the remaining loaf.

    Let the loaves cool for 1 to 2 hours on the cooling rack before slicing.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Huyen Tran
    Huyen Tran
  • Wendy Marshall
    Wendy Marshall
  • Carnivore&Vegetarian
  • Barb Krill Orzepowski
    Barb Krill Orzepowski
  • liltrukr
Maurizio is the software engineer-turned-baker behind the award-winning sourdough website, The Perfect Loaf. Since baking his first loaf of bread, he's been obsessed with adjusting the balance between yeast and bacteria, tinkering with dough strength and hydration, and exploring everything sourdough. His New York Times Bestselling sourdough cookbook, The Perfect Loaf, is now available.

35 Reviews

MangoFruit February 13, 2022
Love this recipe Maurizio! Can I put the dough in the fridge for up to 36hours during the bulk ferment- what would you recommend please?
Maurizio L. February 13, 2022
Glad you like it! Yes, you could. Note that the longer it rests in the fridge, the more pronounced the sourness, and eventually, you'll have reduced rise in the oven.
MangoFruit February 13, 2022
Thank you so much for your reply Maurizio, I'll give it a try 🙏
Huyen T. February 5, 2022
Maurizio, I love the way you put the Cross in the middle and put a frame around it. So beautiful. I am learning a lot from you. Thank you for all that you do. May God bless you and yours always!
Maurizio L. February 6, 2022
Thank you, Huyen and I'm so happy my recipes and posts have helped. Happy baking!
Thien G. September 10, 2021
My husband, brother and I LOVE this bread, Maurizio. I will now need to add it to my regular bakes. It's such a great lunch bread and we also love to have a snack with goat cheese and honey on it. Thanks for such great recipes.
Maurizio L. September 11, 2021
So glad to hear you guys enjoy this one, Thien! It's a wonderful bread with accompaniment, I totally agree with you there. Thanks for the comments and enjoy!
gregorytborders July 29, 2021
Hello Maurizio. Excited to try this. Is there any reason I can’t bake both loaves at the same time? Thanks!
Maurizio L. July 29, 2021
No reason at all, I do it all the time. Enjoy!
gregorytborders July 30, 2021
Thanks! I really appreciate the quick reply.
Barbie B. April 24, 2021
Sorry, another question from me. Will this bread do well in loaf pans, please? I'm still working myself up to making it .... but I'm determined I will!
Maurizio L. April 24, 2021
Yes, I think it would do just fine in a loaf pan!
Wendy M. April 15, 2021
Hi Maurizio,
I’ve made this bread three times and I find I need a way longer bulk ferment. Kitchen temp is 74°F. My starter is very active. At 3 hours it was 11:30pm and I had to go to sleep so I brought to dough into the bedroom with me because it’s way cooler in there (about 63°F). I woke up at 6:30 and it was perfect...maybe it’s the olives I’m using? Combo of oil cured and castelvetrano...rinsed first
Maurizio L. April 15, 2021
At 74F, yes, you'd likely need a longer bulk fermentation. If you warm your m mixing water to 78F, that should help keep this dough on target!
Barbie B. March 24, 2021
Hi Maurizio,
I'm new to sourdough breads, so I'm very tickled to have come across you!
I have a lot of sundried tomatoes that are not packed in oil; to use them, do you recommend I 'oil' them before using, please?

Thank you so much!
Maurizio L. March 24, 2021
Hey, Barbie! You don't have to, no. I find the oil adds a little softness to this loaf, so you could if you'd like—just a small bit of oil added to the dough, enough to coat the tomatoes. Not mandatory, though! Happy baking 🙂
passifloraedulis January 27, 2021
Hi Maurizio, I've been following you on Perfect Loaf for years, and am so excited to see you on Food52 too!

I'm curious -- how come you decided not to opt for a young levain build for this recipe, as with your other recipes?

P.S I just made your sunflower and sesame loaf on Monday. PHENOMENAL. Thank you for making sourdough and naturally leavened baking so accessible!
Maurizio L. January 27, 2021
Hey there! Thanks so much for following along and the kind words. Glad you enjoyed the sesame loaf!

I change my levain build style depending on the bread, and this one benefitted from a longer levain running overnight. I do find the longer running levain brings with it a bit more flavor overall, and it's a easy step just the same. So the answer is, it depends on the bread and what I'm after!

Happy baking 🙂
Riberagirl January 12, 2021
Hi Maurizio! Just wondering you chose AP flour for this recipe instead of bread flour. Also, why 72-74 degrees and not the usual 78 degrees for the bulk ferment. This is my first time trying this recipe and looking forward to baking tomorrow. Grazie!
Maurizio L. January 12, 2021
Hey there! I used AP flour because the dough really didn't need a large portion of stronger flour, but you could use proper "bread flour" (12-13% protein) if you'd like. I found this dough did a little better at cooler temperatures, especially given the amount of levain I'm using in the dough. If you want to go to a warmer temp, you can, just know you'll likely need to divide a little earlier.

Let me know how the bake goes!
Riberagirl January 12, 2021
Thanks for the reply! The starter was ripe at 2pm and I just finished mixing. It’s in the proofer now at 74 degrees as you suggested. I used AP flour after all. I’ll let you know how it turns out tomorrow. All the best to you and yours!
Maurizio L. January 12, 2021
Awesome! Yes, do let me know. You're welcome and Happy New Year 🙂
Riberagirl January 13, 2021
Thank you and Happy New Year to you also! The bread looks and smells amazing! I can’t wait to cut it open!! All the best to you and yours. Thank you for all you do. Stay safe, Jeanne
Carnivore&Vegetarian November 26, 2020
I switched it up and used sundried tomato and rosemary. The rest the same. THe taste was amazing, but I definitely didn't get enough rise on mine during bulk. I think the 3 hours was too short and I should have given it at least another hour. Still tasty.
Maurizio L. November 27, 2020
No worries, sounds like it still came out wonderful. Finding that perfect proof point in bulk is always a challenge! Happy to hear it came out well, enjoy!
Carnivore&Vegetarian November 26, 2020
I switched it up and used sundried tomato and rosemary. The rest the same. THe taste was amazing, but I definitely didn't get enough rise on mine during bulk. I think the 3 hours was too short and I should have given it at least another hour. Still tasty
Daisy October 29, 2020
This is the best recipe ever! I followed your instructions as written . Have made several times with a beautiful , perfectly browned boule . Thank you so much !
Maurizio L. October 29, 2020
So happy to hear that, Daisy! Enjoy :)
Jennifer L. August 28, 2020
About how many grams of 100% hydration starter? Thanks.
Jennifer L. August 28, 2020
Oops! My printer cut off this info. I see it online. Nevermind!
Barb K. August 24, 2020
What do you mean by sourdough starter - liquid? My starter is equal parts flour, water and starter. Should I change the quantities to make it more liquid?
Maurizio L. August 24, 2020
Mine is liquid, yes. It's 100% hydration: equal parts water and flour. Sounds like yours will work just fine!
liltrukr August 23, 2020
Maruzrio the sun dried tomatoes loaves look delicious, I have one question to ask you, when drain the sun dried tomatoes, do you mean to leave some of the oil clinging when weighting before draing them??

P.S please let me know.
Maurizio L. August 23, 2020
Thanks! Yes, I don't drain them completely, I just pull them from the jar, chop them, and put all of that into the dough. I don't pour oil into the dough from the jar, but I use what's on the tomatoes. In other words, just a bit of the oil from the jar. I weigh them this way as well, tomato and whatever oil is on the tomato itself, together.
liltrukr August 23, 2020
Thank you so much Maurizio, and I will let my big sister know because she really loves this recipe and it easy for her to make🙏🙂