One of the Best Breads for Olio Novello May Surprise You
This essay contains an affiliate link for a book and rusks related to what's written below, and here's a link to my disclosure statement explaining "affiliate".
Last harvest I asked my colleague, Dan Flynn, to share his expertise about bread making and bread pairing with Olio Novello, and I confess I learned things I did not know. Here's a link to "The Ideal Sourdough for Olio Novello" from last December in case you missed it.
I first met Dan in 2008 when he was the founding executive director of the UC Davis Olive Center, and came to know him through the years as a dedicated baker, serious enough to take ongoing classes, to own highly specialized equipment, pursue superlative ingredients, and to rise early several mornings each week (no pun intended) to bake. Here's what he had to say about pairing Olio Novello and good bread this year. His words are in quotations below.
Whole Grain for Olio Novello
"When presented with a baguette, ciabatta, or other crusty white bread many people would gladly reach for a bottle of olive oil. A whole grain loaf, on the other hand, may lead one to butter or a cheese knife, but why not olive oil?
After all, whole grains are an essential pillar of the Mediterranean diet. Consider paximadia, the wheat and barley rusks popular throughout Greece, usually accompanied by tomato, feta, oregano and a good splash of olive oil.
The flavors in whole grain bread complement olive oil when you think about it. Bran and germ, which millers remove from the wheat kernel to make white flour, provide bitter and nutty notes to whole wheat bread. The taste is enhanced by a long dough fermentation and, if the loaf is coated in seeds, the sensory experience elevates further.
It is true that some 100% whole grain breads can be overly dense and chewy due to the bran severing the gluten strands that provide scaffolding for a risen loaf. A 50/50 blend of white and wheat flours is a winning compromise: the open crumb and crunchy crust supplied by white flour with the flavor complexity and dietary benefits of whole grains.
This kind of bread also delivers the bold flavor that will stand up to the fresh, robust olive oil available right now."
- Dan Flynn
Want to make your own?
I traded Olio Novello for bread from Dan to take these photos, and can personally attest that both 100% white (not shown) and 50/50 whole grain/white were tremendously aromatic and flavorful, and both had the most marvelous substantial textures yielding quite a satisfying chew--especially with Olio Novello.
Are you interested in baking a 50/50 Tartine style country loaf? Dan follows a process that the eponymous San Francisco bakery originated. He writes further, "It is a rather involved process from their book, however, they provided a simplified recipe to The New York Times" (here is a link to that recipe behind a paywall). Dan writes further, "another option is to link to the New York Times' most popular recipe, which is for “no knead” bread. An additional factor is that the greater the whole-grain flour the more water is needed in the dough proportional to the flour.
I have been meaning to purchase Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson for some time; perhaps you have also. You can purchase a copy on Amazon.com by using the link above, and as an Amazon Associate I may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
Dan Flynn was the founding executive director of the UC Davis Olive Center from 2008 to 2021, which is a global leader in olive research and education. He oversaw olive oil production for UC Davis as part of the center’s self-supporting activities and is the former owner and manager of an organic farm in the Sierra foothills. Currently, Dan volunteers as global ambassador for the World Olive Center for Health in Athens, is an advisor for the Hellenic Center of Excellence in Health and Wellness, and a member of the Applied Sensory olive oil tasting panel in Northern California.