Breaking Bread: A Celebration of Extra Virgin Olive Oil with SA Olive

Words: Crush

Extra virgin olive oil is an incredibly versatile ingredient to use in cooking. Its properties as a cooking oil, as well as a dressing, allow it to be used in many different dishes from starters to desserts.

Table olives
A Celebration of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The inherent qualities of real extra virgin olive oil versus other oils are numerous and including it in your meals is the best way to get all of the benefits. In celebration of the recent SA Olive Awards, we’ve created a recipe that celebrates the versatility of this homegrown favourite.

A Celebration of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

This homemade Olive Oil & Herb Crusted Loaf is perfect for a relaxed night in with friends – your guests can nibble on rustic chunks dunked in quality local EVOO, with a good glass of wine in hand. It will be equally at home on a Sunday spread alongside your regular braai favourites.

Dunking Extra Virgin Olive Oil

While making bread does take a bit of effort, the results are always worth it. This recipe is guaranteed to make you revere extra virgin olive oil even more than you already do.

RECIPE: Olive Oil & Herb Crusted Loaf with Chunky Olive & Feta Dip

There’s nothing quite like the aroma and flavour of a freshly baked loaf of bread. This one is brushed with extra virgin olive oil and served with a rough chopped olive and feta dip.

olive oil crusted bread

You’ll need:

proving basket or a colander lined with a tea towel dusted with flour
Dutch oven or cast iron pot (3,5 l)
a square of baking paper big enough to fit the bread
pastry brush


500 g bread flour
10 g instant yeast
12 g salt
350 g water, lukewarm
1 Tbsp (15 ml) Extra Virgin Olive Oil


2 Tbsp (30 ml) Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a small bowl
4 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped

Chunky Olive & Feta Dip

200 g pitted kalamata olives
200 g pitted green olives
small bunch (roughly 10 g) flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
2 pickled onions, chopped
1-2 rounds (75-100 g ) feta, crumbled
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
zest and juice of 1 lemon
¼-⅓ C (60-80 ml) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper


In a large bowl, add the flour, yeast and salt and mix to combine. Pour in the water and oil and mix until a rough dough forms. Tip the dough out onto a work surface and knead for 8-10 minutes until a smooth and supple dough is formed. Lightly oil a large bowl and then place the dough into the bowl and cover. Prove for 1-2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.

Using a dough scraper or spatula, gently work the dough loose from the sides of the bowl and then tip it out onto a well-floured surface, try to keep it in a circular shape. Wet your fingers and lightly press the dough to degas slightly.

The idea now is to fold the dough into a package with 4 simple stretches and folds. If the dough is sticky, then lightly wet your hands to make it easier to work with. Stretch the circle shape out a bit by gently pulling on the top and bottom then repeating the same motion with the sides. Pick up the bottom edge of the dough and fold it up over itself about ¾ of the way up and gently press it down to stick. Grab the right side of the dough and stretch it out and fold it over the dough (similar to how an envelope is folded). Repeat the same motion with the left side. Grab the top edge and fold it down then roll the dough ball over so the seams are at the bottom resting on the counter.

Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour then use your hands to gently shape the ball into a more even round ball. Use your bench scraper or spatula to pick the ball up, flip it over and place it seam side up in the proving bowl. Let the dough prove for 1 hour until it has almost doubled in size.

While the dough is in its last half hour of proving, place a Dutch oven (3,5 l) or cast iron pot into the oven with the lid on and preheat the oven to 220 °C. Tip: if you don’t have a Dutch oven, you can use a flat bottom potjie pot or Pyrex roasting dish with a lid. Cut a square of baking paper that’s a little larger than your dough ball. Gently tip your dough out of the proving bowl and onto the baking paper. Using a sharp knife, score a straight line into the top of the dough lengthways.

Carefully remove the Dutch oven/pot from the oven with gloves or a thick cloth (caution, it will be very hot). Lift the baking paper up by the corners and drop it and the bread into the pot, being careful not to touch the sides with your hands. Place the lid on and put the pot back into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes with the lid on.

After 20 minutes, drop the heat to 200 °C; remove the pot from the oven and take the lid off. Carefully brush the top of loaf with the extra virgin olive oil and then sprinkle on the thyme and rosemary.

basting bread
brushing oil
garnish with herbs

Place the pot back in the oven without the lid and bake for a further 20 minutes. Keep an eye on the loaf as it browns and if you need to, drop the heat to 180 °C.

Remove the pot from the oven. Carefully lift the bread out and tap the underside with your finger, if it sounds hollow, then it’s done. Allow to cool on a rack for at least 1 hour before slicing.

Chunky Olive & Feta Dip

While the bread is cooling, prepare the dip. Chop the olives to resemble a rough chunky texture. Add all of the rest of the ingredients and season to taste. Tip: you can be generous with the olive oil as the bread is perfect for mopping up extra oil when spooning or scooping up the dip. To serve, slice or tear the bread into generous chunks and serve with olive dip. This recipe is the ultimate celebration of extra virgin olive oil!

chunky feta dip

Learn more about the winners of the 2021 SA Olive Awards and how you can celebrate local EVOO. | Facebook | Instagram

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>