Crisps, chips, crostini, crackers, toasted bread… whatever you want to call these, I’m here for it. I made these out of a olive sourdough loaf that unfortunately didn’t turn out so attractive. It was too wet and slack for me to shape – overly-ambitious me went for 85% hydration – so I took a shortcut and put it in a loaf pan.
Luckily, the flavors were still excellent. I used a mix of brine-cured green Halkidiki olives from Trader Joe’s (they call it Chalkidiki) and brine-cured black Kalamata olives, and the recipe called for Herbes de Provence and lemon zest, which I always keep a jar of in my freezer. My love affair with olives had been burgeoning over the last few years and it reached its zenith with these plump and briney Halkidiki olives. I’ve never even spent time in the south of France, but I’ve spent some time in Barcelona, and the whole concoction transports me to a world where I’m sipping on some Verdejo or Xarello, noshing on charcuterie in a four-seater bar with just one guy running the whole operation.
Anyway. I miss traveling.
Olive Sourdough Crackers
- 188 g of water
- 250 of all purpose flour
- 50 g of leaven
- 5 g of salt
- 3/4 cup pitted olives, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 tsp dried herbes de Provence
- 1/4 tsp of lemon zest
- Mix water and flour with your hands and let rest for 30-45 minutes to autolyse. This allows the flour to fully absorb the water and develop strength – if you want lofty loaves instead of frisbee disc loaves, do as I say and not as I do.
- Mix in leaven and salt with your hands and knead until the dough passes the windowpane test. This will probably take 10-15 minutes of continuous kneading. Do Google any/all of the above terms if you want to go down the breadmaking rabbit hole, like I have. You can knead bread a dozen ways, I’ve learned.
- Mix in olives, herbs and lemon zest into the dough.
- Let the bulk fermentation begin. Depending on the strength of your leaven, and the ambient temperature, this can take anywhere between 3 or 12 hours. When the dough has increased in size by 20-30% and a knuckle in the dough leaves an impression that takes a few seconds to bounce back, you’re ready.
- Shape your loaf. A boule or a batard, whatever you like. Let it go through its second rise, or the proof; this will take several hours as well. The same impression test will tell you when it’s ready
- When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 550 F with a lidded Dutch oven or a cast iron pan in it. Remove the Dutch oven/cast iron pan from your oven, sprinkle some cornmeal or rice flour or regular flour to prevent sticking and put your bread in it. Slash your bread so it’ll have room to rise. Put bread in the oven.
- Bake bread for about 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 450 F, remove the lid, and continue to bake until the bread is brown and crusty, and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Or if the bread reaches an internal temperature of 212 F if you have a pen thermometer
- Leave bread to cool for an hour or two before slicing into it.
- To turn into crackers, slice it really thinly, perhaps 5 mm max, and lay on a single sheet on a baking tray.
- Bake at 375 F for 10-20 minutes, flipping and rotating and removing crackers as they each inevitably brown and crisp up at their own rate.