Breakfast Essentials:Bread and Olives…

When it comes to obsessions and “to die for” topics, we, the Turkish people must be in the Top 3. We love our point of view and defend it until the grave about our government parties, our football team (aka soccer!), our politics, and our food. Each and every Turk is a little expert center on his or her own.

Not only do we love to discuss heatedly about all of those, but we also can not be told to quit our fort for any of the above. For example, take football teams. They are like Zodiac signs for Turks. Once you are in, you can not change it! If you are somehow convinced to be a fan of a football team when you were a kid, you can not, in a million years, be converted to another football team. If you happen to convert, you will be looked down on, frowned upon, be made fun of and not be respected or taken seriously for the rest of your life by the fans of your previous team! If you have any doubt, check Elif Batuman’s article on Turkish soccer fanatics in the March issue of The New Yorker. The New Yorker thought it was a topic worth some 10 pages!

No, we are not quitters! Just like our teams, we cannot be told to quit our bread as well. We would die for it before we quit! Even when a doctor tells us that we have to, we would say “what does he know?” and go onto putting butter on our next slice. We are a nation who has a love affair with gluten.

Bread is a very essential staple on Turkish tables in every single meal. We have bakeries on every other corner that sell only bread. The crusty, hard shell wrapping up the soft, sponge-like inside… I have never been able to resist the fresh bread right out of the oven. While growing up in Istanbul I was normally on the bread and newspaper duty every weekend morning, making my way to the newspaper stand, then to the bakery to grab one loaf of freshly baked bread for breakfast. I would give in half way back home, and break a piece of warm bread, then keep eating on the road. When I got home, there was always the same joke “go get the half of our money back, they gave you a half loaf of bread!”

Although I have started baking bread at home, nothing compares to the feeling of carrying a warm loaf, wrapped up in today’s paper under my arm while I am debating how much of a piece I should break and eat on my way. As I was looking for some bread recipes, I stumbled upon 40 Firin Ekmek (40 Bakeries of Bread), a great recipe site. She has many family recipes as well as other artisan breads she has made. She is quick to answer any questions. Most recipes are in Turkish, but several are translated into English. For example this Ramadan Pide recipe is to die for as well. I have made it many times and is worth all the effort.  When I saw this olive bread, I was sold since it incorporated olives, another favorite breakfast item of mine. Yogurt and olive oil make the texture so soft! And it was easy to roll it inside a 2.5 quart casserole dish and bake it that way. If you want to skip olives, it will taste great as well.

I have made this one many times but never occurred to me to put on the blog. It might be because there is not much leftover after a breakfast. When my friend, Melinda from White Water Crafting sent me an email and asked if I can post some bread recipes since she wants to start baking breads, I thought this is the perfect time for this easy recipe.

As Peter Reinhart says “May your bread always rise” …

Bread with Olives ( From 40 Firin Ekmek website)

  • 2-1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon instant yeast(if you are using active dry yeast, use 1 teaspoon and proof it in water-sugar mixture first)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon yogurt
  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup water(room temperature) (if you think you need more, gradually increase the amoun, 1 tablespoon or so each time)
  • 20 olives, pitted (if you have olive paste or spread, it would work as well. You can add the olive pieces to the dough during kneading. I prefer to roll out the dough as  a rectangle, put the olives as a layer, then roll the dough)

1. If you are using active dry yeast, mix it with water and sugar and wait until it foams.Then mix with the other ingredients except olives.

2. If you are using instant yeast, combine with flour, sugar, salt , then add the wet ingredients. After you stir everything until well-mixed, turn it onto the floured surface, and knead approximately 8 minutes.

3. Put it in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let it rise until it doubles (depends on the yeast type you used, can be somewhere from an hour to two hours).

4. Take the risen dough on a lightly floured surface, pat or roll it down to an 18 -20 inch by 6-8 inch rectangle. Put olives on the long side and roll it on the long side to make a rope. Roll the rope around itself and put in a lightly oiled 8-9 inch dia circle shape pan or deep casserole dish.

5. Let it rise for another hour.

6. Bake it in a pre-heated 400 degrees F oven for 45 minutes or until it sounds hollow when you tap on the bread.


  1. by Melinda
    8:42 pm
    Mar 26, 2011

    i LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE…did i say LOVE olives! this bread looks amazing…mmm…if only i could eat this post!

  2. by Jennifer
    9:23 pm
    Mar 26, 2011

    Yum! Looks delicious (I bet it smelled even better). Looking forward to seeing you guys tomorrow.

  3. by Tanvi
    11:12 am
    Mar 27, 2011

    This is so pretty.I love the beautiful color of the crust.I like the olive paste swirl inside.
    I m pretty awful at bread making so hats off to you! :)

  4. by Roxan
    12:52 pm
    Mar 27, 2011

    What a beautiful beautiful bread! I love that swirl in the middle. I just woke up and am sipping on my coffee… Would love some bread to go with it.

  5. by sonia
    2:30 pm
    Mar 27, 2011

    This bread is looking absolutely delightful. Very nicely made and presented Ilke… !

  6. by Kristi Rimkus
    9:38 pm
    Mar 27, 2011

    I love your story. I have to admit, I’m a big bread fan. Our local Albertsons sells fresh baked french bread, warm from the oven. If I buy a loaf I’ve eaten half of it in the car on the way home, and the other half while I’m making dinner.

    Beautiful loaf, the color is amazing and so are your pictures.


  7. by Sommer@ASpicyPerspective
    10:57 pm
    Mar 27, 2011

    Ilke, that looks amazing! The swirl of olive is simply brilliant. I’ve got to try this!

  8. by Shelley
    12:20 pm
    Mar 28, 2011

    Love that Reinhart quote! And it looks like yours rose beautifully. Great job! Now I’m sure I must get to Turkey before I die. Any country that considers bread and butter daily staples is near and dear to my heart :-)

  9. by Meg (The Red Spoon)
    3:18 pm
    Mar 28, 2011

    Gorgeous! I love the smell of freshly baked bread. Unfortunately my husband hates olive, but I love them, so I guess I would have to eat the entire thing! I guess it’s good my French blood is constantly driving me to eat bread and cheese!

  10. by zerrin tatman
    2:28 pm
    Mar 30, 2011

    Looking beautiful! I am sure tastes delicious too.You just wanted to eat the whole bread by yourself.

  11. by All That I'm Eating
    3:04 pm
    Mar 30, 2011

    I’ve been looking for a recipe that uses yoghurt in bread making for ages! This looks so tasty, I love olives and I imagine wrapped in soft bread they are even nicer. Thanks for sharing.

  12. by Ilke
    3:28 pm
    Mar 30, 2011

    Thank y’all for the comments! It is a great, easy bread! Hope you enjoy it too! World without bread would be pretty boring :)

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