This olive sourdough bread recipe with rosemary, thyme and sweet red capsicum makes a deliciously moist sourdough bread that is fantastic toasted and spread with toppings such as ’nduja or just dipped into virgin olive oil and sea salt. It also serves as an excellent lesson in how to bake sourdough with inclusions.
Baking sourdough bread with inclusions is for many home bakers the next step on from baking a classic sourdough loaf. Bakers use the term ‘inclusions’ to describe anything that is added to the basic formulae of sourdough bread – sourdough starter, flour, water, and salt.
Before I tell you more about sourdough baking with inclusions and this olive sourdough sourdough bread recipe with rosemary, thyme and sweet red capsicum, we have a favour to ask. If you’ve used my sourdough recipes or you’ve cooked any of our recipes and enjoyed them, please consider supporting Grantourismo so that we can keep creating delicious recipes and food stories for you.
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Olive Sourdough Bread Recipe With Rosemary, Thyme and Sweet Red Capsicum
Over the last few weeks, after reviving my stored sourdough starter and getting back into sourdough baking in a toaster oven, I’ve been experimenting with adding wet inclusions to my sourdough bread recipe, such as black olives and sweet red capsicum, along with dry inclusions that compliment these, such as thyme, rosemary and oregano.
Baking sourdough with inclusions is for many home sourdough bakers the next challenge after the classic sourdough loaf. Pro bakers use the word ‘inclusions’ for anything that they add to the basic formulae of sourdough bread, which is sourdough starter, flour, water, and salt.
These can be dry inclusions such as seeds, nuts, spices, and dried herbs or they can be wet inclusions, such as olives or semi-dried tomatoes. I have used both wet and dry inclusions in this olive sourdough bread recipe with rosemary, thyme and sweet red capsicum, or bell peppers if you live in North America.
Adding dry inclusions does not affect the basic recipe, as there’s no need to adjust the hydration levels, ie. the percentage of water to flour. With wet inclusions, a reduction in the hydration ratio can compensate for the extra moisture that comes from adding olives or red capsicum to a sourdough mix.
The results of my recent sourdough baking experiments have been nothing short of amazing. The aromas that come from some wonderful Kalamáta olives and fire-roasted capsicum, as well as the dried herbs and spices mixed into a sourdough boule are just fantastic.
Now, if you’re a regular sourdough baker, this olive sourdough bread recipe is not going to replace your traditional bake of a classic sourdough boule or batard. Rather, it can easily be slotted into a weekday or weekend schedule of baking.
Putting a loaf of this olive sourdough bread into the oven on a Saturday morning is going to change the way you brunch. Admittedly, these are pretty adult flavours (a lot of kids don’t like the tang of Kalamata olives), but you can always toast up some plain sourdough bread to top with jam for the kids.
We’ve been experimenting with toppings for this olive sourdough bread and we love it just with a great salty butter when it’s fresh or lightly toasted. When it’s a day or two old, we love toasting it and grilling it with mild cheddar. It’s also amazing toasted with ’nduja, our favourite Calabrian salami paste spread all over it. Adding cheese, such as Parmesan or pecorino makes it even better.
Tips for Making this Olive Sourdough Bread Recipe with Rosemary, Thyme and Sweet Red Capsicum
Firstly, if you’re going to just add dry ingredients such as thyme, rosemary and oregano, there’s no need to adjust your classic sourdough bread recipe, just add the dry ingredients to the water and starter.
For the addition of wet inclusions, such as olives and roasted capsicum, you can reduce the hydration of the dough by 10-20 grams. It’s also best to pat dry the wet inclusions before adding them, as steam will form around each piece and they may end up being ‘loose’ in the final loaf.
The addition of olive oil to the dough really adds extra flavour to the finished loaf, however, it creates a little extra complication if you want a firm crust at the end of a normal bake – which is 20 minutes with the lid of the dutch oven on, followed by around 20 minutes with it off. The bread may still have a soft crust.
This is because moisture from the olive oil comes to the surface of the loaf at the end of the bake. To counter this, you can leave the loaf in the oven with the door ajar until it has cooled down. Alternatively, you can let the bread cool down and then give it another blast in the oven at 190˚C for 10 minutes to firm up the crust.
Olive Sourdough Bread Recipe
- Dutch Oven
- 370 g bread flour or a mix of 3 parts bread flour and 1 par wholewheat flour
- 250 ml water bottled
- 80 g starter full strength
- 8 g salt
- 1/2 tsp thyme dried
- 1/2 tsp rosemary dried
- 20 ml olive oil
- 80 g olives pitted & halved, preferably Kalamata
- 50 g capsicum fire-roasted & skinned
- Make sure your starter has at least doubled in size since the last feeding.
- When your starter has peaked it should have a slightly domed appearance and have bubbles of different sizes.
- Mix your flours and add your salt.
- In a separate bowl, mix your water with the starter using a whisk. Add the olive oil and dried inclusions.
- Add the water and starter to the other bowl and mix thoroughly. I like to use a flexible bowl scraper and finally mix the dough by hand. Cover the dough and leave it to rest for one hour.
- Stretch and fold the dough 3 times with a 30 minute rest between folds. After the second fold add and evenly distribute the olives and capsicum.
- After the third fold, wait 30 minutes before testing the dough strength with the windowpane effect. If the dough does not break you are ready to pre-shape the dough.
- Using a bench scraper form the dough into a tight ball by placing the scraper under the dough and scraping it 180˚ several times. If the dough keeps sticking to the scraper, use a little flour.
- Once the dough is in a tight ball, sprinkle with a little rice flour and cover with a dish towel.
- After 20-30 minutes, flip the dough over and spread out into a rectangle.
- Fold the right side over the left to halfway across the dough.
- Then fold the left side over the right. You might see little bubbles on the surface of the dough. This is a good sign. If the bubbles are big, pinch them closed.
- From the edge closest to you, roll the dough gently over and press down enough to seal the dough. Do this until you now have a slightly oval shape.
- Turn the dough 90˚ and seal the end of the dough. Rotate 180˚ and seal the other end. At this stage you can push the dough around the long sides to create more tension.
- Line your ‘banneton’ with rice flour and flipping the dough over with a bench scraper, drop the dough into you banneton – this means the seam that was on the bottom is now on the top. If you need to, you can ‘stitch’ the dough along the centre to create more tension (in this case it wasn’t necessary).
- Sprinkle the dough with a little more rice flour before covering it over. So stop it forming a skin, I then put it a plastic bag before refrigerating for at least 8 hours and up to 36 hours.
- When ready to bake, place your Dutch Oven in your oven and preheat your oven to 260˚C or as hot as it will go. Flip the dough out (seam side down) onto a cutting board with some oven paper and a little semolina flour. This helps stop the bottom of the loaf from burning. Score the dough with a slash on one side of the dough at an angle of about 30˚. You can decorate the other side bu scoring it lightly. Carefully remove the Dutch Oven from the oven and transfer the dough over to the Dutch Oven. Spray with a little water and put the lid on and put the Dutch Oven back in the oven. Set a timer for 25 minutes.
- After 25 minutes, remove the Dutch Oven, take off the lid and put the bread back in the oven. If your oven goes to 260˚C, turn it down to 230˚C and set a timer for 20 minutes.
- If your bread did get great oven spring like this loaf, you can place some foil over the ‘ear’ to stop it from burning.
- After 20 minutes, assess the loaf and decide just how dark you want your loaf to be. This one shown is on the lighter side.
- When you are happy with your loaf place it on a wire rack to let the loaf cool fully before testing.
Do let us know if you bake our olive sourdough bread recipe with rosemary, thyme and sweet red capsicum in the comments below, as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.