Black olive sesame bread

This recipe is adapted from one published in the Guardian in spring of 2011 – needless to say it’s by Dan Lepard, baker of renown.  It has been lightly adapted to local cicumstances but oherwise is as the original baker intended.

One of the best aspects of home baking is that it gives you freedom to be full on with ingredients. In other words, your bread doesn’t have to be mean and can be loaded with, say, plump black olives, with none of the shop baker’s worry about how much he can charge for the loaf. The olive brine provides the salt element here, but add half a teaspoon more if you like.


Olive and Sesame Bread


  • 330g jar pitted kalamata  olives in brine
  • 1 tsp fast-action yeast
  • 1 tsp dark brown sugar
  • 50g sesame seeds, plus an extra tablespoon to finish
  • 350g strong white flour,  plus more for shaping
  • Oil, for kneading
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp sumac, optional but good
  • Finely grated zest of lemon


Strain the olives, then measure the liquid and top up with warm water to make 250ml. Put the strained olives and the liquid into a bowl, then stir in the yeast, sugar and 50g of sesame seeds. Add the flour, mix to a soft, sticky dough, cover and leave for 10 minutes.  Note the dough is very wet and sticky – that’s the way it is supposed to be.


Lightly oil a patch of worktop just large enough to knead on, then give the dough a short, 10-second knead. Return the dough to the bowl, cover and leave for 10 minutes more. Repeat this quick knead twice more at 10-minute intervals, then leave the dough, covered, for 75-90 minutes.


Meanwhile, line the base of a tray with nonstick baking paper, grind the herbs as fine as you can, then tip on to a large dinner plate and mix with a tablespoon of sesame seeds, the sumac (if using) and lemon zest. On another plate, have ready a wet square of kitchen towel.


Pat the dough into a rectangle on a clean worktop dusted with a little flour, then roll it up tightly into a snug scroll, making sure all the olives are tucked in. Next, tightly roll the ends of the loaf, so they pinch in and the loaf has a shape a bit like a lemon. Roll the loaf on the wet towel, then roll it in the herb and spice mix. Place on the tray seam-side down, cover and leave to rise for 60-90 minutes. Slash the top and bake at 220C (200C fan-assisted)/425F/gas mark 7 for about 40 minutes.