olive, tomato and feta bread #BreadBakers

Happy National Homemade Bread Day! Of course, we at #BreadBakers are celebrating the occasion because, well…you know, BREADBakers. How could we not? It seems like everyone and everything has an official Day these days—most of them thinly disguised marketing ploys to get you to buy stuff—but even cynical me can't whine about a day for bread. I mean, every day is a good day for homemade bread, but it is nice to have the recognition. Can a Hallmark card be far behind? Or even better, a Google Doodle? We can live in hope. But first, let's bake.

Most months, #BreadBakers chooses (choose? Are we a plural or a singular?) a theme for our posts, but this month, since we've already had our official post for November (Thanksgiving breads), National Homemade Bread Day was declared a free-for-all. And I, for one, can't wait to see not only what we came up with, but what bakers from all four corners did to mark the day as well. That sharing thing? It's the best part of blogging. I never ceased to be amazed, awed and inspired at the endless creativity and passion out there in the blogosphere. Now before I dissolve into a sniveling, sentimental heap of tears and tissues…

I decided to wing it on this one by taking one of my go-to basic breads and throwing in some  favorite flavors, and I couldn't have asked for a better result than this olive, tomato and feta cheese boule. This bread's got it all: Thin, crispy, crackly crust that sings as it comes out of the oven. Custardy, moist, open crumb. A sprinkling of herbs, fresh thyme in this case. Little pockets of creamy feta. Tangy bursts of sundried tomatoes and savory bits of salty olive. It is, as far as I'm concerned, perfect. It's the kind of bread that needs no accompaniment; the kind of bread that you could easily eat an entire loaf of all by yourself (not that I would know anything about that). And it's the kind of bread that's totally worth getting up to bake at 5 a.m. for (don't worry, you don't have to!)

If you're already a bread baker, I'd love it if you'd post a link to what you've been up to for National Homemade Bread Day. And if you're not, I hope you get inspired to give it a try. There's nothing quite as satisfying as freshly baked bread, especially when you're the baker.

OliveTomatoFetaBread-1.jpg

olive, tomato and feta bread

Makes 2 loaves

Ingredients

Levain

  • 100g mature, active levain
  • 400g white flour
  • 100g whole wheat flour
  • 400g water (85–90°F)

Dough

  • 740g white flour
  • 60g whole wheat flour
  • 620g water (90–95°F)
  • 21g fine sea salt
  • 2g instant dried yeast
  • 360g levain
  • 75g pitted green olives, roughly chopped
  • 75g sundried tomatoes (preferably not oil-packed)
  • 150g feta cheese, roughly crumbled
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves  (or 1 1/2 tsp. dried)

Instructions

  1. Mix levain ingredients by hand in a 6 qt. container or large bowl.  Cover and let sit for 6–8 hours at room temperature.
  2. After 6-8 hours, mix together the white and whole wheat flours in a 12 qt. tub (or big bowl), then add water and mix by hand to incorporate. Cover and let sit for approximately half an hour.
  3. Add a bit of water to a small bowl, enough to just cover the bottom of the bowl, and transfer 360g of levain to the bowl. (The water makes it easier to transfer the levain.)
  4. Sprinkle the yeast and salt evenly over the dough in the tub, add the 360g of levain (do not include the water), then pull the dough over the top from all four sides to completely enclose the yeast, salt and levain.
  5. Mix the dough by hand using the pincer/fold method (great video instructions here) until all the yeast, salt and levain are fully integrated. You can wet your hand as needed to keep it from sticking to the dough. Let rest for about 10 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle the olives, sundried tomatoes and feta evenly over the dough, the mix in thoroughly using the pincer/fold method. When fully mixed, cover the dough and let it rise.
  7. Stretch and fold the dough three times, preferably during the first 1 1/2 hours of the rise (videos here again!). After completing the folds, cover the dough and let it rise at room temperature until it's about 2 1/2–3 times its original size, about 5 hours after the initial mix.
  8. Sprinkle flour around the edges of the dough. Flour your hands and remove the dough from the container/bowl to a floured surface. Divide the dough in half (check these videos). 
  9. Shape each half into a fairly tight ball, then place each ball into a floured proofing basket, seam side down, wrap each basket in a plastic bag and refrigerate overnight, about 12-14 hours.
  10. At least 45 minutes before you plan to bake, move an oven rack to the middle position, place two Dutch ovens on the rack and preheat the oven to 475°F.
  11. Remove the proofed dough from the refrigerator (you don't need to bring it to room temperature; it bakes straight from the fridge) and gently turn each loaf out of its proofing basket onto a floured surface, then take out the heated Dutch ovens one at a time and remove the lid. CAREFULLY place each loaf into a Dutch oven, seam side up, cover and return to the oven.
  12. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes, then remove the covers and bake for 20–30 minutes more.
  13. Remove the Dutch ovens and tip the loaves out onto a cooling rack. Let the loaves cool for about 20 minutes before slicing.

Based on the hybrid leavening doughs from Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish

#BreadBakers Celebrate National Homemade Bread Day

Many thanks to Lauren at From Gate to Plate for hosting!

About #BreadBakers

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme.  Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.
BreadBakers