Breaking Bread - The Beginning; Kalamata Olives Focaccia & The Runaway Dimples

Today I am so excited to introduce you to a brand new project in the blogsphere: Breaking Bread! You'll read all about it below, but what you NEED to know is that we'll be #breakingbread monthly with you, baking a different recipe each month, sharing advice, and enjoying the act of breaking bread between friends. I hope you'll join us this month and bake focaccia! For the basic recipe, head on over to our hostess's site, Cake Duchess!

Whoever told you baking bread at home was easy kind of lied to you! There, we said it.

Bread baking is not a simple task. If it were easy, every single home baker across the world would be baking their own wonderful, crispy crusted bread with soft and moist centers every single day.

After all, we live in the age of convenience. Buying a loaf of freshly baked baguette, ciabatta, whole grain or a chocolate croissant at the grocery store or bakery is accessible to so many of us. But when you have a little extra time, there is no greater satisfaction than working with your own dough and enjoying the rewards of the hard work you reaped on your kitchen counter.
Breaking Bread Society was created to inspire you to bake more bread in your kitchen. We want you to bake along with us every month and break bread with your family and friends. We want to spark a bread baking passion across the nation and the world around. We know it’s not an easy task and we are here to help you along the way.

Each of our founders has a different background, complementing each other in various ways;

Lora of Cake Duchess,  our Italian baker, has a way with traditional and classic Italian breads like no other. As a young girl, she got bit with the baking bug making her first pizzas and breads with her family at their pizzeria and later at their family restaurant. Married to an Italian executive chef, her baking repertoire has grown baking alongside her husband, mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law.  You can find Lora’s Cornmeal Peasant Boule featured on Fine Cooking’s Best of the Blogs. Lora is passionate about bread baking and is excited to bake and learn alongside her breaking bread bakers.

Shulie of Food Wanderings, with a couple decades of baking with yeast experience and expertise, is known for her recipe development, food writing and Mediterranean and Indian cooking classes. Born to Bombay born and raised Indian parents, she comes to us from Israel by way of a DC suburb. Her food and culture writings, recipes and food photography have been showcased in nationally and internationally acclaimed publications. You can find her step by step quince stuffed challah rolls published in The Washington Post.

Last but not least, Marnely of Cooking with Books, our professionally trained baker comes to us from the Caribbean island of Dominican Republic and has studied at the world-renowned Culinary Institute of America. Her baking is best known to be spontaneous and influenced by tropical flavors. She currently lives with her husband on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, where she works as a pastry chef in a private golf club, as well as develops recipes for national food brands. You can find her writing for Marcus Samuelsson and Honest Cooking.
What unites us three bakers and all of you? The love of bread and a dear and growing friendship in the Breaking Bread Society! We love baking bread because people love eating real bread; delectable bread steaming hot right out of the oven. We love the discovery of a new recipe and learning new techniques about a bread recipe we may have not tried before. We are here to discover new flavors, new textures, and new ways to experience bread at the table with our friends and family, and most importantly, WITH YOU!

Whether you bake along with us every month or just once, we want to inspire you to love baking your own bread one loaf at a time. We encourage you to make the recipe your own. Check out Marnely and Lora's recipe ideas for inspiration. Be creative and add your own toppings or bake it as we did.  Read all about our Breaking Bread Society adventures and let’s unite in #breakingbread together:

Bake this month’s bread and post it on your blog with #BreakingBread in the title of the post by June 1, 2012.
  • Include a link back to the current #BreakingBread hostess Lora, Cake Duchess' blog
  • Link your post to the linky tool below. It must be a focaccia baked in May 2012 and must include in the recipe: Copyright (c) Nick Malgieri 1995, All Rights Reserved
  • We would love to connect with you on Twitter; Tweet us at @Breaking_Bread  at and tag it #BreakingBread!
The Runaway Dimples
'G-d, or whoever is in the skies, help me, I need dimples in the right places. and don't let your imagination run with it...I am speaking of baking!' That's the message I put out on twitter that nowadays is like my virtual Wailing Wall of sorts. Speaking of The Wailing Wall, it has a twitter account and we can tweet our wishes online while some dedicated yeshiva boy, I imagine, will print or write it down and carefully place the neatly folded pieces of paper, with our innermost hidden yearning and secrets, within the mossy ancient walls. Maybe I should have sent a message to a higher authority and place?! In the past I couldn't whip a simple foccacia into submission and these clever little dimples always eluded me. The runaway dimples, taunting and playful, made an appearance not once but twice in my recent baking focaccia adventures.

Kalamata Olives Focaccia
slightly adapted from How to Bake by Nick Malgieri 
(c) Nick Malgieri 1995, All Rights Reserved

1 1/3 warm tap water (about 110F)
3 1/4 unbleached flour
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 1/4oz packet)
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
Few sprinkles of coarse kosher salt or I used Cyprus flake salt
12-14 pitted Kalamata olives, halved

Measure the water into a bowl, whisk in the yeast and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Measure flour and 2 teaspoons of salt in a separate bowl and stir well to combine. Add the yeast mixture to the flour and incorporate with a rubber spatula, then knead with your hands for 1 minute, until all ingredients are incorporated but dough isn't smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for an hour. I put it in the refrigerator for 4 hours though an overnight is recommended. Brush 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil on a parchment papered cookie sheet and spread the dough, working with your fingers to about an 8x10 rectangle. I pressed the olives slightly into the dough, covered it with a kitchen towel and let it rise for 1/2 an hour. Preheat over to 425F. Make dimples with yours fingers in the risen dough, sprinkle with coarse salt and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden on top.

Word to the wise: Don't snip your warm focaccia with kitchen shears. The air bubbles and pattern won't show as well. Let it cool before slicing. Don't have your dog around when you shoot either. Mine got a hold of a hunk of focaccia and spit the the olives out.