Pain aux Olives -- Olive Rolls -- filled with small, salty, Nicoise olives.
Olive bread has always been a favorite of mine. Big, crusty, rustic loaves of olive bread; slices spread with a thick layer of salty butter. But these small olive rolls are also a favorite. I bake the rolls and store them in the freezer; rewarming in the oven when ready to eat.
During the summer months, when I have fresh thyme in my garden, I will add that to the yeast dough. In the winter I substitute 1/3 the amount of dried thyme leaves.
I'm planning on serving them with a fresh Orange and Olive Salad (recipe HERE) and a Chickpea Purée with Crisp Croutons (recipe HERE).
The small balls of yeast dough can be placed on parchment-lined baking sheets, or onto oiled baguette pans as I did. I like the oval shape the rolls get from baking in narrow channel pans.
• 1 package (2 1/4 tsp.) dry yeast
• 3 3/4 cups unbleached flour
• 1 tablespoon salt
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1 tablespoon wheat gluten
• 2/3 cup warm milk (lukewarm)
• 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
• 1 cup pitted, coarsely-chopped Nicoise olives
• 4 teaspoons finely-chopped fresh thyme
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1. In a medium bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/3 cup lukewarm water and set aside for 10 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, sugar and wheat gluten and mix well.
2. Add milk and melted butter to yeast mixture. Mix thoroughly, then gradually add to flour mixture, stirring with wooden spoon. Mix in enough lukewarm water, up to 1/3 cup, to form a soft, sticky dough, then turn out onto a lightly-floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, 10-15 minutes. Form dough into a ball; wrap with plastic and set aside for 5 minutes.
3. Working on a lightly-floured surface, flatten dough with your hands into a rectangle about 8-inches-by-11-inches. In a small bowl, combine olives, thyme and olive oil. Evenly spread olive mixture over dough, then form into a ball and knead until dough is smooth - about 5 minutes. It's a slow process incorporating the olives, but be patient. Shape into two 16-inch long cylinders, then cut each into 8 rounds. Shape each round into a tight ball. Arrange on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets (or well-oiled baguette pans as I've done), loosely cover with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
4. Preheat oven to 450˚ F. Place pan of water in bottom of oven, then uncover rolls and bake until lightly browned, 10-15 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and serve warm. Makes 16 rolls.
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