Bread Baker: Rosemary or Olive Sourdough

It’s amazing how just a couple extra ingredients can completely transform a loaf of bread. Add olive oil and rosemary or black olives to a traditional sourdough loaf and you have a completely different animal – one that’s fresh and pungent from the rosemary, or salty and slightly bitter (in a good way) from the olives.

This recipe originates from King Arthur Flour’s baking book. While theirs makes two loaves of a rosemary loaf, I like making one rosemary and one olive. It’s neat to see how different ingredients affect rising height; the loaf with olives doesn’t grow quite as tall. What the olive bread does get is a wonderful color, thanks to the staining from the olives. I’ve tried both kalamata and oil-cured olives in this bread. The oil-cured olives definitely have a stronger flavor, but both work great.


  • 5 1/2 cups (23.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) water
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups (14 ounces) fed sourdough starter
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup diced kalamata or oil-cured black olives (use more or less depending on how much you like olives)

Step 1. Combine the flour, water, olive oil and starter and stir until the liquid has just been absorbed. Let sit for 30 minutes. While the dough is resting, chop the rosemary and olives.

Step 2. Add the salt and knead until the dough is smooth, about 8-10 minutes. Then divide the dough and knead in the rosemary to one loaf, the olives to the other. Dividing the dough evenly is much easier with a scale. Transfer each loaf to a bowl to ferment for 2 hours.

Step 3. after 1 hour, fold the dough. Deposit it onto a lightly floured surface and fold the dough in half. Turn it 90 degrees and fold in half again. Then return it to the bowl to rise for another hour. See the strands of dough in the picture? I always look for those to ensure my dough is rising.

Step 4. Turn out each bowl of dough onto a lightly floured surface. Shape the dough into a rough ball, then let it sit for 20 minutes so the dough can relax. While the dough is relaxing, prepare the place the dough will sit while it rises again (also called proofing). I line medium bowls with paper towels, then lightly coat them with flour. Shape the dough into tight loaves by pulling edges of dough toward the center, and tucking it in. Place the loaves into the bowls smooth-side down. Let the dough rise again for 2-3 hours.

Step 5. At least 30 minutes before baking (more if you are using a baking stone), heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Carefully invert the bowls holding the loaves of bread onto a parchment-paper lined tray. Slash the tops of the bread with a serrated knife, and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the interior temperature of the loaves is 200 degrees F.

  • SparrowBell

    What is the hydration of the sourdough starter?

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