Sourdough Summer Wheat Bread with Olives
It is summer. The time of sun. Long days and times spent in company. It is also time for quick meals. Bread is one of the great options for creating a snack on the go. Usually, we put something on the bread slice. But we can also hide something into the dough that will further enrich the moment. Olives, anyone?
This is, as usual, a recipe that goes with a part of a short story. Can vampires eat olive bread? Find out! Their human walking blood reservoirs certainly do.
- 100 g or 3.5 oz wholemeal wheat flour
- 100 ml or 3.5 oz water
- 1 big teaspoon of sourdough starter
- 50 g or 1.7 oz wholemeal wheat flour
- 350 g or 12 oz white wheat flour
- 12 g or 0.5 oz salt
- 220 ml or 7 oz water (maybe less, maybe much more)
- 20 ml or 0.7 oz olive oil
- 80 g or 3 oz olives
- some herbs you like (optional)
You need to mix your levain mixture and let it rest at room temperature in a covered bowl. Keep in mind the mix of flour, water, and bacteria will double, and choose the bowl wisely. Your levain should be ready in 7-12 hours. It depends on the activity of your starter and the temperature.
Mix the jolly bubbly levain with water and the rest of the ingredients. Except for the olives. Knead by hand or use a kneading machine until the dough is smooth and passes the window test. That means you can gently spread a piece of dough really thin without it tearing. Toss in the olives and fold them in. You can use the whole olives (without the pits), olive circles, or you can make the pieces so small they almost disappear in the crumb but still provide the rich olive taste. You need to be careful at this point. The olives could get mashed when kneading for too long. Let the dough rest in a covered bowl for about 2 hours. You can occasionally fold it to help the dough structure.
How to tell the levain is ready:
You should know your little bacteria zoo and guess the right time to mix the dough. I like to use a float test. It is simple. When you think your levain looks ready (welcomes you with a bubbly surface and fruity smell) take a glass of water and a spoon. Dip the spoon in the water (it needs to be wet so it does not disrupt the bubbles in the levain too much) and then gently take a bit of the levain from the mix and put it into the glass. Floating means you are ready to knead your dough. Sinking means you need to wait and try in half an hour or later. Rapid dissolving means you arrived too late and the levain fermented for too long and now is too sour to be used.
This is a rather flat bread full of moisture. I prefer this recipe this way instead of a round and high loaf. The flatness and stickiness of the raw dough go well with carelessness of the long summer sunsets. But you can experiment with water in the recipe. As always, keep in mind that the amount of liquid in the recipe containing a lot of flour will vary. Each type of flour absorbs different amount of liquid and has different properties. You may find out that flour available in your shops needs less water. Or you need to double the amount to reach the desired consistency.
Working with this wet dough might be challenging for the beginner bakers. In that case, don’t be shy to lower the water amount to the point where the dough does not stick to your hand when kneading. But keep in mind it will affect the lightness of the crumb and the bubbles.
Shape the loaf, smear it with flour or flour and corn starch mix and it is ready to rise. I recommend watching a few videos about bread shaping. There are many techniques and it is up to you which approach will suit you and your kitchen.
If you decide to go with the unruly wet dough:
- generously sprinkle your working surface and your hands with flour or smear it with about two spoons of oil. It will enable you to shape the sticky loaf. Look up some shaping videos before you try it yourself for the first time.
- the doughs full of moisture love to stick also to the proofing baskets or baking paper. It is always safer to use a cloth dusted with flour or a 1:1 mixture of flour and corn starch in your proofing basket. You can also proof the loaf on baking paper in a baking tin or a bowl.
- after heating the oven, you can insert the baking tin with the dough straight into the inferno. Or let another baking vessel absorb the heat and use the paper for dough transport from the proofing tin to the hot-blazing one. It is always better to bake the dough in or on something already heated. It will help the crumb to stay airy and soft.
- baking the loaf on a flat surface will allow you to have the flat and long shape of the bread. Choosing a vessel will give the bread its shape. But it will also affect the appearance of the crust.
Once the bread is happily resting in the proofing container of your choice, you need to give it time to rise and fill itself with bubbles and taste. The dough is ready when it doubles its size and feels airy to gentle touch. It usually takes about 2-3 hours.
Preheat the oven to 250°C or 480℉. I use a thick and heavy baking stone that absorbs the heat for 30 minutes. You can use what you prefer and what you have. Once you decide to bake the bread, gently put the raw loaf on the baking surface and quickly close the oven door. You can use a sheet of baking paper to protect the surface of your baking stone, tin, or the vessel. And you can score the loaf and/or sprinkle it with water. And you can heat also a small pot suitable for the oven at the oven bottom and now pour in about one cup of water. The steam will further help the bread to rise. After closing the door, do nothing for 10 minutes. Just sit still and enjoy the view. The loaf should at least double in size and the crust should harden and show some color. Then lower the temperate to 200°C or 400℉ and bake for the next 20 minutes. The loaf should be fully baked once it sounds hollow when you knock on its bottom. Let it cool. And enjoy!
And, as promised, here is the story. Look for more in other recipes. Or in the separate stories section.
The Endowed and the Inapt Part 1
94th year of the fifth cycle
The tooth moved and mild pain spread through Reny’s gum. He frowned at his reflection in the mirror and nudged his canine milk tooth with his tongue again.
He grinned. His teeth shone in his brown face darkened by the desert sun. He carefully gripped the tooth and pulled outward. The ache burst in streaking pain and he heard a soft tearing sound.
The little canine with a bloodied root rested in his palm. Reny swallowed the blood and jumped into the air.
“Dad!” He screamed and ran down the stairs. He held the milk tooth high in his fist.
“Dad! It’s out! My milk tooth! It’s out!”
He hit the stone wall when he turned in the corridor and rushed to the sun-lit balcony. His father did not practice there.
He saw some other endowed ones climb the reddish stone to get into the rooms cut into the warm rock wall. He inhaled the warm air full of the scent of sun and sand.
He must be at the Circle or in the depths.
He quickly jumped over the balcony and climbed down into the street. He clutched the tooth in his palm and ran down the street to the main water well of Sanctuary.
People walked the narrow street cut into the desert rock and the voices merged into a hum. The high ornamented well roof shone in the burning sun. Reny pushed his way through the market and a few goat herds in fences. His heart rejoiced when he spotted his father’s figure among the other warriors.
He slowed his pace and straightened his back. Dad noticed him and waved. Reny respectfully sat on a bench next to the well and waited.
He heard some words about the patrols and a hunt and passed his time observing the many dark hand imprints on the big well.
Everyone who came to take water bowed to the stone and touched the oldest red imprints at the well’s base. Reny’s thoughts wandered to the old founders of the place who fled from the persecution in the rich Elyss river region and found safety in the dry desert. He touched their old imprints many times and was taught to thank them for the water every time he drank.
His father still spoke with the warriors and Reny impatiently hid the tooth into his pocket, moved to the nearest empty practice rock, and started doing the basic unarmed battle exercises. He checked every passing figure and made sure his movements were swift and elegant, his balance flawless, and the imaginary hits looked powerful. He controlled his breath and the tension in his moving limbs. More warriors walked up the path to the well and Reny’s palms sweated. The tattooed men and women carried their handguns, long firearms, and knives with pride. Their muscles strained their brown shirts and leather armor.
Reny focused on the fluidity of his movements. One warrior with unusually pale hair and blue eyes winked at him.
The new group joined his father and their commander. Reny slowed down and noticed the people around stopped to listen as well. The new raid and hunt was near. Reny suppressed a proud smile. His father was taking Reny’s older brother to fight. And Reny was sure he would join them next year.
“Reny, why are you here?” his father’s voice rumbled. The thin tattoos around father’s mouth narrowed as he frowned. And the sun made the skin on his bald head gleam.
Reny jumped up from the low attack stance and spread his palm with the tooth. Dad’s expression turned mellow and he covered Reny’s hand with his.
“Did you tell anyone?”
Reny shook his head. The hole in his gum hurt and he felt like running around the whole Sanctuary to speed up the growth of the adult tooth.
“I need to finish something here. Go and tell your endowed mother. She will prepare the ceremony.”
“Can we start practicing tomorrow?” Reny jumped up.
“What, the advanced sets?” Dad took Reny on his shoulders. The view from up there was as magnificent as always. He saw above the stand roofs and the sun shone brightly through the well’s roof. The pale stone seemed almost white under the rays.
“I am the best! You’ll see, Dad. I will stand by your side in a battle!”
“You don’t say.” He took Reny’s leg, slid him from his shoulders, and lifted him into the air.
“I don’t know, Reny, I don’t know”— he poked his ribs — “You will need to put on some muscles first.”
“I will!” Reny wriggled.
“Alright, my child. Run to your mothers.”
The way back seemed much longer and Reny kicked the small pebbles as he walked. The crowd stopped and Reny faced the Papuchan’s banners. The bearers screamed to make way. Reny and the others fell on their knees and hailed the endowed rulers of Sanctuary. Reny made sure he knelt on one knee and kept his position straight. His shadow was short on the ground.
Mums are both saying I will be as tall as Dad.
The procession with Sanctuary rulers moved. Reny checked the people around him. The adult endowed ones, mostly with bald heads or colorful scarves, stood and bowed. Reny’s knee hurt from the warm pebbles. The inapt people and the ones captured during the hunts knelt on both knees. One of the close warriors with fresh tattoos hit an old man with a circular servant opal necklace to bow lower.
Reny lowered his gaze not to look at the four rulers. The almost naked muscular servants sweated under the wood of the sedan chairs. Large circular opal pendants stuck to their chests. The warriors from the rulers’ personal guard hit the ground with their rifles repeatedly as they marched.
Some people whispered about Papuchan’s will and the future hunt. Everyone stared at the backs of the passing procession.
I will bring home riches and teach the blunt-toothed respect when I join the hunt!
Reny waited for the endowed in the crowd to straighten up and he rose with the few other children with unchanged teeth. The young warrior grabbed the old servant and rammed his fist into the old man’s abdomen. He did not give him a chance to catch a breath and sank his teeth into the man’s throat. Reny moved out from some other warriors who called encouraging comments at their friend. The rest of the servants with opal circles hurried away. Reny heard two more cries of someone caught and bitten. The warriors laughed and drank deeply. Reny walked and noticed an inapt woman rushing two older inapt people away. She looked around and guided them towards a narrow passage through two high stone buildings. Reny quickly checked their opal circles and looked up at the board and smirked. The side street, the quicker passage, was reserved for the endowed or higher inapt only.
“That’s forbidden!” He called. “Get back on the road or I tell them.”
He pointed to the end of the street. The group of warriors just released one drained servant and chose another one.
The three people bowed their heads to him. Their gazes checked the feeding powerful warriors.
“Stay! Don’t move!” Reny ordered and smirked at their fear. He hoped they saw his missing tooth.
“Our masters gave us tasks to do, young warrior,” the woman said. “We must hurry.”
Reny imagined how it would feel to sink his future sharp canines into the unworthy woman’s flesh. And feel the warmth of the blood. He barely tamed his laughter as the moans and shuffling of weak feet of the inapt drained servants made. The three faces in front of him wrinkled and paled. He heard the warriors, drunk with blood, throw away some body and wobble to the stone wall to rest.
“Fine, go. But use this road. And don’t let me see that again!” Reny pointed to the side street and imagined how his father would be proud of him for keeping the order. He was tempted to torment them a bit more but, without sharp teeth, he already broke the rules and they could have the audacity to complain.
Reny followed the three unworthy people down the main road and made sure they followed it. And he barked a few warnings at them.
He stormed home and ran into the common room full of wide pillows and glass and clay art. His endowed mother, Ur, was tending to a leather piece of armor for the forearms. Her shiny violet head scarf bore armor ointment smears. Her face beamed at Reny’s quick explanation about the tooth. Her face tattoos formed a bird picture as she smiled. She took his hand into her hard and strong palms.
“Go and pray to Papuchan, Reny. Reflect on this change, think about our past and our future. Stay there in reflection until we call you. The usual for your age, alright?”
Ur’s sinewy thumbs caressed his cheeks and she kissed his forehead. Her long dark hair smelling of rose brushed his cheeks.
Reny felt like floating through the stone and wooden walls of the house. He did not meet anyone on his way to the climbing wall and he regretted not finding also his birth mother to tell her as well. A smell of olive bread emanated from the kitchen under them and his mouth watered. The household cooks often had access to precious olives and olive oil. The savory olive pieces in soft airy dough made the best bread buns for a training or a long run. Reny always looked forward to the olive bread and was convinced it was the best companion of dried meat during the long and exhausting journeys through the desert.
He swiftly jumped on the open terrace, inhaled the warm air, and glimpsed the pale view of Sanctuary, the tall rocks with carved households, and the desert around. He paused and walked to the edge. His father sometimes told him stories about a huge river Elyss in the flatlands. Sanctuary was in the Elyssana kingdom. A safe haven for those with sharp teeth. Dad also told him about Elyss’s rich and green banks, cool breeze, and fresh food. And about the lazy wicked unworthy people with blunt teeth who envied the endowed blessed ones and hunted them.
Reny always imagined he would see the river glitter in the distance when the sky was clear. His father laughed and told him it was too far.
One day, we will see Elyss together, father.
Reny clutched his fists.
They will pay for the suffering of the founders. And every endowed one who had to run from them.
He straightened up and marched through the half-burned candles and trimmed shrubs. The shrine door screeched.
Reny bowed to Papuchan’s muscular statue and admired his long canine fangs. They were made of opals, just like the necklace full of small opals in drop shapes. The endowed god had a stern expression highlighted by thin tattoo links and held a spear. A few broad knives and two old rifles decorated the wall behind the god.
Reny lit a long candle in front of Papuchan and poured water into a small, crimson painted bowl between that statue’s toes. He took a short thin knife, cut his little finger, and let a few blood drops dissolve in the water.
He seated himself on the praying carpet and focused on the small flame of a candle that danced on opal shards arranged around it. He tamed his spirit and eased and deepened his breath. His heart slowed down and his skin went cold. Slow and deep inhale, even slower exhale… He reflected on his large family and their power and might. On their history of vengeance and hunts. He remembered every important deed of his ancestors since his great grandparents fled Elyss and found safety here.
He let his spirit free for a moment and observed the trophies from the raids. The bones of their enemies entangled with bronze shackles encircled three skulls that stared into nowhere beside Papuchan’s feet. And around the majestic statue made of the desert stone lay ornamented knives and guns.
Reny came closer and touched a few old scrolls that contained poems about the fight for freedom and the might of the blood drinkers. The leather and wood had a soft, familiar, and comforting scent. Reny looked at Papuchan and his hand fell. His wounded gum itched and he tried his second milk canine. The tooth did not move. The scrolls lured him.
No one would… Papuchan would see me. And punish me.
Reny trembled and moved away from the scrolls. He forced himself into the reflections and waited in the shrine until the sky turned orange and then violet. Ur and Ahsim, his ruler mother and his birth mother came for him. He followed them in silence, as the custom was. Ur’s slim and sculpted and Ahsim’s fleshy figures cast long shadows in the ceremonial lights and Reny smelled cinnamon and citrus oils in the air.
The big living room was empty and decorated with opals and embroidered scarves.
The endowed mother rang the bells on the ceiling and Reny stood proud as the whole household gathered. The inapt people with short and blunt teeth bowed to the endowed ruling woman and stood behind the endowed members of the family. Reny’s inapt mum, Ahsim, smiled at him from behind the endowed elderly uncle. Reny’s older brother grinned and flexed his arms.
“Papuchan took Reny’s childhood today,” the endowed mother announced. She walked to Ahsim and took her hand. She led her to Reny and held hands with both of them.
She gazed at Reny his nose shimmered as her strong spirit reached into his eyes and warmed him. The sensation of her presence in Reny’s head grew and calmed him.
“Now we are going to wait for Papuchan’s will. Reny will either join the endowed ones and train his body and spirit to be Papuchan’s picture. Or he will become the source of power and hoard his blood for Papuchan’s chosen ones. Our spouse and your lord will lead the evening letting go ceremony,” Ur spoke, still in the invisible, spiritual touch with Reny.
Haatum entered with a plate full of healing candies and a small mortar. Reny took one candy and a taste of bitter sage and sweet chamomile spread in his mouth and nose. The candlelight deepened the tattoos on the endowed faces and limbs and it covered the bite scars on the inapt skip with gentleness. His father softly repeated the purpose of the sharp and blunt teeth and everyone’s place in Sanctuary.
He took Reny’s tooth and put it into the mortar. It crumbled into tiny shreds and then into white dust under Dad’s power. He gave the mortar to Reny and gently pressed his spirit against Reny’s when their eyes met. It felt like a gentle touch inside his skull. They all ate and recited poetry. Even the three toothless servants captured on a hunt were allowed to take one plate of food before they were ordered to return into the basement.
Reny recited his newest poem about his victory in the climbing race and second place in the running competition.
Reny rolled in his bed. His gum felt almost healthy and whenever he felt sleep filling his skull he thought about the secret endowed teachings he would have the right to learn when his teeth mature. His trophies from the races and competitions glittered in the candlelight on the shelf. His thoughts about the future sent streams of unrest through his body. He heard soft sounds of dice and talk from the room above. His stomach rumbled.
Parents must be talking. Maybe they are planning my new household duties.
He carefully crept to the window. The small twins did not stir. Reny hesitated and adjusted their covers. The boy and the girl looked much more like their inapt mother. Reny was sure their teeth would grow blunt. And their blood would be his to drink and gain strength from it.
I will protect you. When our enemies come, I will fill myself with your blood and fight anyone who would want to hurt you.
He slipped behind a large flower pot on the balcony and found the holds he discovered a few years ago. He was still small enough to slip through the narrow space but the rock pressed on his back. He did not go down into the kitchen to get the sweets as usual but he went up to stop beside his parents’ common room. He peeked inside.
His two mothers and father lay on the antelope rugs and moved opal figures on the large play board.
Reny smiled. His father seemed to be winning the game. They talked about mundane things like a broken table and the need to buy new carpets. Reny rolled his eyes as Ahsim proposed she would go to the weaver to choose and his endowed parents agreed. And his father did not manage to push away the other opal figures with his opal elephant warriors. Reny yawned softly. And did his best to stay hidden and silent. He still remembered the beatings he got in the past when his parents found him outside of their room.
And they already had to talk about the hunt. Dad spoke with the others from his group. And even with his commander. And his commander surely had new information from the rulers. And I know nothing.
“Haatum, I fear Reny will not cope well if his teeth won’t grow sharp,” his inapt mother said.
“His teeth will be as sharp as mine.” Dad rolled the dice and moved an elephant figure on the board.
“Papuchan values pride and strong will. Your blood is strong, Ahsim. There is little reason to worry.” His endowed mother waved her hand and rolled her dice as well. “Reny is a child just like any other. He gets too happy. That’s how children are. He will be fine whatever happens.”
Ahsim briefly bowed to them and put two falcon opal figures on the board.
Reny’s arms hurt on the wall. And he knew the time Ahsim would open her veins for the other two parents was near. He quickly climbed back into his bed. He felt the closed wound with his tongue and doubt chilled him.
He could not fall asleep. His stomach ached from hunger.
He heard the door move as Ahsim left the bedroom and moved down into her chamber in the lower part of the house.
He sneaked into the kitchen and stole half a loaf of olive bread.