basil, olive + sun-dried tomato bread
So here’s something I don’t so much love about pregnancy: um, NIGHTMARES.
I’m serious. Apparently this is a thing that can happen when you’re with child — something that’s been happening to me nightly, if not twice nightly. You get these crazy, vivid, out-of-control dreams-slash-nightmares and the worst part is? You can’t do a thing about it. You just have to ride it out.
Which means I’ll be spending a lot of time every night with zombies in my attic and murderers trying to decapitate my husband and/or cat and waking up a sweaty mess with my arms clutching my sides like I’m hugging myself in fear. Fear of the zombies, that is.
The last couple of nights have been a little better — as in, I have more stress dreams than dreams of the undead — and I have decided to credit it to this bread. Because after I made this bread, the zombies went away. Ergo, I’m making and eating this bread every day henceforth until May. And then I might even keep eating it afterwards. Just to be extra-safe, you know.
But I digress, because we’re really all here to ogle over this bread and all its delicious qualities, of which there are many. Take, for example, the chopped sun-dried tomatoes, which are sweet but tangy and oh-so-tasty both in bread and on the side. Or, the salty kalamata olives tucked inside the loaf. Or the chopped basil, which gives the loaf just enough added oomph in flavor and brightness that you can’t help but feel like birds are actually chirping outside and springtime is just around the corner. Chyeah. This bread is pretty magical.
And because of those aforementioned magical qualities, I’ve been eating this bread round the clock as any and all meals — toast topped with an egg for breakfast; veggie sandwich bliss for lunch; cheesy and/or garlic toast with pasta for dinner. Oh, and don’t forget the snacktime ritual, which is basically just ripping off pieces of the bread and eating them plain, or when I’m feeling less like a cavewoman, toasting a slice or two and slathering it with butter. It should come as no surprise that I’ve added a few extra snacktimes into my day just for this bread.
So I’m just going to sit here and eat my basil, olive and sun-dried tomato bread all day, every day, until the nightmares go away, mmk? I suggest you follow suit — except hopefully without all the zombies.
- 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 1/3 cups warm water (110–115 degrees F), divided
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups bread flour (or more all-purpose flour)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained, chopped and patted dry
- 1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives, quartered and patted dry
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- Olive oil, for brushing
- In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, combine yeast, sugar and 1/3 cup warm water. Let sit 10 minutes until foamy (if it doesn’t foam up, discard and try again).
- Add remaining 1 cup water, all-purpose flour, cornmeal, 1 1/2 cups bread flour and the salt; stir to form a dough.
- Knead dough on a lightly floured surface 10 minutes, adding more flour as needed to make a smooth, soft, elastic and only slightly sticky dough OR knead 5 minutes in stand mixer with dough hook attachment on medium speed, adding more flour as needed to make a smooth, soft, elastic and only slightly sticky dough.
- By hand, carefully knead in sun-dried tomatoes, olives and basil until evenly distributed throughout dough. Shape dough into a ball and place in a large, lightly oiled bowl; turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place 1 to 1 1/2 hours until doubled.
- When dough is doubled, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle lightly with flour. Punch down dough and transfer to baking sheet.
- Gently pat dough into a 10-by-8-inch oval. Fold one long side up and over to the center; press edge into center of dough to adhere. Fold other long side up and over to the center; press edge into center of dough to adhere. Pinch and press ends of dough to form points (so the dough almost looks like a large football).
- Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place 45 minutes to 1 hour until doubled.
- Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Uncover dough and brush lightly with oil. Bake 30 to 40 minutes until loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely before slicing.
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