Olive Herb Bread: Does Experimenting in the Kitchen Pay Off?

It might not surprise you that I'm not a huge gambler. When I went to Vegas for my 30th birthday, almost 5 years ago (OY!!!!), I think I only used $5 in a slot machine, and then I was done. What can I say, I'm not a huge risk taker. This dislike of risk taking applies to many parts of my life, but that's a conversation for another day.

A few weekends, ago, however, I decided to take a little risk and make bread. In of itself, baking bread is not a huge undertaking. You really just need to follow a trusted recipe closely and hope that your yeast isn't old and doesn't get killed by too hot of the water. BUT I decided not to follow a recipe precisely, but add a few things to it instead! I'm such a rebel...not ;)

I took a great recipe from Ruhlman that I successfully made last year, and added a few things.

Olive Herb Bread: Does Experimenting in the Kitchen Pay Off?

Here's what I did: I added 1/4 cup chopped herbs (combination of cilantro and dill), 1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives, and 2 teaspoons za'atar to the dough. I added all of these fun ingredients as the dough was being mixed in my food processor.

Here's what it looked like. Pretty, right? And it smelled amazing. It looked a bit wetter than I remember the original dough looking, but I figured that's what happens when you add the extras.

I waited impatiently for the dough to rise, and it did so, but it did not double. I tried not to panic and not to scratch the entire project, although I was tempted. Instead, I added a bit more flour to the dough, kneaded it, and then baked it in a smaller Le Creuset than the recipe called for because my dough ball was quite a bit smaller.

Guess what? The bread turned out awesome! It was dense and chewy and had a great crust. I loved the bits of olives and the flavor of the herbs and za'atar. In fact, I sprinkled the bread with za'atar before baking it.

All in all, this was a successful gamble! Next time, however, I think it'd be best to add the olives and the herbs after the dough has had a chance to rise.

What are some of the risks/gambles you take in your kitchen?


Megan said...

This bread looks incredible to me. So happy it turned out!

Bianca Garcia said...

I'm pretty risk averse, too. The bread looks great!

hapatite said...

This would be a good use for my za'tar! I like that you baked it in a le creuset~