Sourdough olive bread recipe | A wonderful mediterranean bread

About the last year I’ve been playing and enjoying the game Assassin’s Creed Odyssey which is set in ancient Greece. In the countries around the Mediterranean sea they eat a very different diet than we do in the Nordic countries, and that has always fascinated and inspired me. This is my recipe for a delicious sourdough olive bread.

The bread has a healthy amount of Kalamata olives and is spiced with dried herbs that grow naturally in the region. We’re using basil, thyme, oregano and rosemary.

Sourdough olive bread with an olive in the crust

Higher hydration then before

This bread is a step up in hydration from my sourdough bread for beginners that has a hydration of 70%. That bread is a bit more forgiving if you don’t get the gluten all the way, but this higher hydration helps with getting a bread that will stay fresh longer.

A breads hydration is the ratio of the total water in regards to the total flour in a percentage

I chose to raise the hydration with five percent. It seems like a good place to start, so this bread is made with 75% hydration.

The levain in this sourdough olive bread recipe

To make this sourdough olive bread recipe you need an active sourdough starter. If you don’t have one you can learn how to make one.

We’ll start the recipe by making a preferment, a so-called leavin. In reality it’s a new version of your sourdough starter, that will die off when it’s baked with the bread.

The reason we make a levain instead of just using starter directly in the dough, is that we can time it exactly when the starter is the most opportune moment in it’s development, namely when it’s at its peak.

There’s a large part of whole-grain wheat flour in this levain, and that’s because then there is more “food” for the yeast in your starter.

The formula for the levain is this way:

WeightIngredientBaker's Percentage
50gbread flour50.0%
50gwhole-grain wheat flour50.0%
50gstarter (100% hydration)50.0%

The process is to build the levain in the morning, then letting it grow to its peak. My starter can easily grow to triple. You know your own starter.

Sourdough olive bread on a concrete floor in front of a brick wall

Then you do an autolyse, which means “self mixing”. You mix water and flour in the recipe, and let it rest until the levain is ready.

This steps helps the flour is 100% hydrated and will kickstart the gluten development in the dough, thus making the later steps in the recipe much easier.

We make a bit more levain than we need, so that we have enough for when we mix the dough.

The formula in this sourdough olive bread recipe

This recipe describes the breads formula.

When you look at the table below, you may say that it says that the water is 62.3%, but you said that the hydration is 75%, but you have to remember to add the water and the flour from the levain.

The part of the levain that’s included in the dough is 250g. That means it contains 50g bread flour, 50g whole-grain wheat flour, 50g starter (which is 25g flour and 25g water) and 100g water.

That brings the total flour weight up to 988g (704g + 159g + 50g + 50g + 25g) and the total water weight up to 741g (616g + 100g + 25 g).

Then we just divide the water weight by the flour weight and multiply with 100. Voila. 75%.

If you want to change the hydration, it can be done through my bread calculator.

WeightIngredientBaker's Percentage
50gbread flour50%
50gwhole-grain wheat flour50%
50gstarter (100% hydration)50%
WeightIngredientBaker's Percentage
704gbread flour81.6%
159gwhole-grain wheat flour18.4%

What type of olives should I use in this sourdough olive bread recipe?

Culinarily there are three types of olives. They all come from the same tree, but it’s about when they are picked.

They are:

  • Green olives – they are picked when the olive fruit has the right size, but before it ripens.
  • Half-ripe olives – these olives has started the ripening process. The skin has started changing color, but the flesh is still green. The colors vary from green to several shades between red and brown.
  • Black olives – fully ripened olives. Both the skin and the flesh are in the color nuances between brown and black.
Kalamata olives in a blue bowl on a wooden floor

I chose some delicious black Kalamata olives that I brought in a specialty store in Copenhagen called “Stig’s Olives”. By the best olives that you can find, it’ll make a difference in the final result.

Baking with steam

To give the bread great oven spring you will need to bake the bread with steam.

There are several ways to do this:

  • Use the steam function of your oven
  • Use a pan with a rolled up towel in the bottom of your oven while baking
  • Baking the bread in a dutch oven or combo cooker.

Whatever way you choose to use, do not skip baking with steam. You won’t get the right result, but all of the above methods will give great results.


This sourdough olive bread recipe has a relatively high hydration. Not so hard that it is impossible to work with the dough, but you need to know the techniques to get a good result.

The crumb is open and full of delicious olives. The herbs accentuate the Mediterranean vibe and perfectly suits the earthy notes from the olives.

Sourdough olive bread crumb

The crust is super crispy and has a fabulous smell. This is wonderful bread as a side for almost any Mediterranean dish and many dishes in middle eastern cuisine.

It’s a fabulous bread. I hope you’ll try to make it.

Please share on social media

This is my recipe for sourdough olive bread. I hope you will try to make it.

If you make it and post it to Instagram, please tag me as so I can see what you made. That would make me very happy.

Ad links! Links for equipmement and ingredients in this recipe are affiliate links, which means that I will a commission if you purchase the product!

Sourdough Olive Bread

Course: Dinner, Lunch, Snack
Cuisine: Greek
Keyword: greek, olives, sourdough bread
Prep: 1 hour
Cook: 1 hour 30 minutes
Hævning: 12 hours
Total: 14 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 2 bread
Calories: 1966kcal
Author: Sune Trudslev
Nutrition Facts
Sourdough Olive Bread
Amount Per Serving (1 brød)
Calories 1966 Calories from Fat 252
% Daily Value*
Fat 28g43%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Sodium 6043mg263%
Carbohydrates 367g122%
Fiber 25g104%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 62g124%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
A fabulous sourdough bread with divine olives all the way through the crumb. It's hard not to love this bread.
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The dough


  • 250 g kalamata olives
  • 2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary


Make the levain – in the morning

  • Mix all the ingredients for the levain thoroughly.
  • Put the levain in a see-through container with room for the levain to triple.
  • Put an elastic band around the container and line it up with the top of the levain
  • Put the levain somewhere warm.


  • Mix 704g bread flour, 159g whole-grain wheat flour, all the spices and all of the water except 50g that you should reserve for mixing in the salt later on.
  • Leave covered until the levain has peaked. Mine can grow to triple the size, but you know your own starter.

Mix the dough

  • Mix the salt into 50 grams of the reserved water from earlier and add it to the autolysed flour.
  • Pour 250g levain over the autolysed flour.
  • Mix the dough by pushing the fingers through the dough and stretch the dough up and folding it in over itself.
  • Keep going until the starter is properly dispersed in the dough. This may take 5-10 minutes.
  • Leave the dough covered by a damp dish towel for 30 minutes

Bulk fermentation – Around noon

  • In the beginning of the bulk you need to do three sets of stretch and folds.
  • You'll do a set the following way:
  • Wet your hands.
  • Grab the dough in the back of the dough, stretch it upwards as far as it goes without breaking.
  • Fold the dough down towards yourself.
  • Turn the bowl a quarter turn and repeat.
  • Do two more so that you've stretched and folded the dough from all four sides.
  • During second set of stretch and fold, add ¼ of the olives before doing the stretch and fold.
  • Then add ¼ more of the olives for each individual stretch and fold until they are all added.
  • After the last stretch and fold, do a windowpane test, to see if the gluten development is good. If not add more sets spaced out by 30 minutes as needed.
  • After the windowpane test passed, leave the dough covered by a damp dish towel for 3-4 hours until it's grown 30-40%.

Dividing & pre-shaping

  • Pour the dough out unto your unfloured kitchen counter and divide it into two using your bench scraper. I usually weigh the dough, but you don't have to.
  • Take one piece of dough and flip it over. We are going to work some strength into the surface of the dough.
  • Grab the bottom of the dough (closest to you), stretch it up and fold it about halfway in over the dough.
  • Continue with the right side, the left side and the top of the dough. It kinda resembles an envelope.
  • Flip the dough over, so that the part that was against the table is now facing up.
  • Put your bench scraper behind the dough and pull it forward, so that the top of the dough it pulled in under the front of the dough, thus tightening the top.
  • If an olive pops out of the dough, don't push it in. Either remove it completely or add it in the back of the dough.
  • Put the scraper in the front of the dough and push forward and turn the dough so that the scraper is behind again.
  • Keep going until the dough is a pretty nice ball.
  • Leave both dough pieces to rest for about 20 minutes to relax the gluten.

Shaping the dough – late afternoon

  • Flour two oval bannetons
  • Put a little bit of flour on your kitchen counter.
  • Flip a piece of the dough onto the flour.
  • Put it out into a rectangle
  • Stretch one side out and fold it in over the dough. Repeat with the other side.
  • Roll the dough up tightly. When you have a tight roll, roll the seam downwards toward the table.
  • Seal the ends by pulling the dough on the side down over the roll in the side
  • Put the shaped bread in an oval banneton with the seam upwards and put it in a plastic bag so that the dough doesn't dry out.
  • Shape the other bread.

Final proof – early evening

  • Then you need to do the final proof. You can choose to bake the same day and let the dough proof on the kitchen counter, or you can put it in the fridge and do an overnight proof.
  • If you let it proof on the counter you can check if the dough is ready to bake using the poke test.
  • Poke the dough lightly with your index finger. If the hole fills in quickly it needs to proof more, if the hole fills slowly and leaves a slight indentation it is ready. If the hole doesn't fill the bread is over proofed. Bake immediately.

Bagning – sen aften eller næste morgen

  • Put a dutch oven or combo cooker in the oven and heat your oven to 260°C/500°F/Gas mark 10.
  • Let it heat for an hour.
  • If you opt not to use a dutch oven or combo cooker you need to steam the bread using other methods.
  • Bake covered (or with steam) for 20 minutes.
  • Remove the lid or vent the steam.
  • Turn the oven down to 230°C/450°F/Gas mark 8.
  • Bake for another 25 minutes until the bread is crusty, crunchy and has a dark caramelized crust.
  • If the bread does not look done once the 25 minutes are up, use your baker's intuition and keep the brad in until it's done.
  • Turn the oven up to 260°C/500°F/Gas mark 10 and get ready to bake the other bread.


Skriv et svar

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  1. Bruce McLeod Reply

    If 1/4 of the olives are added during the 2nd Stretch & Fold, when are the other 3/4 of the olives added? During each of the following S & F’s?
    Thanks, this looks very delicious.

    • I updated the recipe. They all need to be added during the second set, just 1/4 with each individual stretch and fold 🙂

  2. Natalia Reply

    Hi! The recipe says to add all the spices to the Autolyse (step 1) but then on Bulk Fermentation (step 7) it again says you need to add the spices. In the video you add them during the stretch and folds but I added them to the autolyse. Will it be a problem?

    • No, adding them in the autolyse is better because they get dispersed more. That’s why I changed it (but I guess not completely) 🙂

  3. Can I simply cut the ingredients in half so I don’t have to bake two loaves?

  4. Ivan Reply

    “Black olives” are not ripe olives. They are made by picking olives still green from the tree, and putting them through a different fermentation process which turns them black.

    if you pick ripe olives from the tree, when they have turned black naturally, they lighten during processing to become the grey, brown or purple mid-colour olives. You called them “half-ripe” olives, but actually they are fully ripe olives. Kalamata olives are often of this type.

    Sun-dried olives are the only naturally fully black olives, but they are quite rare, not the normal black olive.

  5. Pedro Gigante Reply

    just made it.
    Thanks for sharing..
    I had a problem with it being too sticky and not passing the stretch window test.
    moved forward and it had not enough consistency to get the shape and be manipulated after the 3/4 hour growing.

    Going to oven in 20min. Lets see

    • If you mail me (use the contact form) exactly what you did and what kind of flour you used, I’ll help you troubleshoot it 🙂

  6. Leslie Wolff Reply

    My olive bread turned out beautifully, thank you Sune.

  7. Pingback: PCS Bakes! – The PCS Roar

  8. jonathon moreira Reply

    are we supposed to autolyse the whole time the leaven is rising (up to 12 hrs? or can we do the usual 30-60 min?

    • The levain is supposed to take around 4 hours to double. It’s a 1:2:2.

      You can do a 30 minute autolyse for sure 🙂

  9. Robert Reply

    Dear Sune,

    First thank you for everything. I’m a COVID baker and your site and videos have transformed me into a serious sourdough artisan baker. As a geek myself (biotech industry), I really appreciate your application of the scientific method. I would have saved 5 months getting up to speed if I’d found you sooner. But bottom line, with your help I’m making the best bread I’ve ever eaten. And that’s saying a lot since I’m from the San Francisco/Berkeley/Napa area where this stuff is taken very seriously!

    Second, with respect to this recipe, I’m not quite clear how much of the various herbs you are using and whether they are fresh or dried. Zero grams comes up for some, or 0.1g for others, when I use the bread calculator. The “card” however uses teaspoons, but doesn’t mention dried or fresh. Not that I couldn’t figure out a useable amount, but you’ve got a good touch so I’d like to see what you’ve settled upon.



    • You are welcome. I love to hear when my content makes a difference 🙂

      I’ve updated the recipe and other places. The correct amounts were already listed in the recipe. 2 tsp basil and 1 tsp of the other spices. I used dried spices, which I’ve also updated the recipe to reflect.