Greek Olive and Onion Bread

Recipe by PJ Hamel

Many Greek breads are associated with specific religious holidays: the most famous of these are Tsoureki, a golden braid enclosing colorful dyed hard-boiled eggs, at Easter; and citrus and spice Christopsomo, at Christmas. Elioti, an olive-studded loaf, was originally a Lenten bread, but is now commonly available year-round. The following is our take on that classic.

This savory bread is softer than a typical hearth loaf, though it's quite chewy. Serve it plain; toasted and drizzled with olive oil; or sliced for sandwiches (turkey, lettuce and tomato is a favorite).

50 mins
20 to 22 mins
16 hrs 10 mins
2 loaves
Greek Olive and Onion Bread - select to zoom
Greek Olive and Onion Bread - select to zoom
Greek Olive and Onion Bread - select to zoom


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  1. To make the starter: Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Combine the water, flours and yeast in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Stir until fairly smooth, cover, and let the mixture rest at room temperature for 12 to 18 hours.

  2. To make the dough: Add the water, flour and salt to the starter, and stir to combine. Knead the dough — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — until it's smooth and supple. It'll be a bit dry and stiff at this point, but once you add the onion and olives and they release their juices it'll become soft.

  3. Allow the dough to rest, covered, for about 15 minutes.

  4. Knead in the olives and the onion, place the dough in a greased bowl, cover the bowl, and set the dough aside to rise for 1 1/2 hours, or until it's doubled in bulk.

  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.

  6. Divide it in half and form each half into a ball or an oval.

  7. Place the loaves on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, or one that's been dusted with cornmeal.

  8. Cover the loaves with lightly greased plastic wrap, or a reusable cover and allow them to rise for 1 hour, or until they're nearly doubled in size. (See "tips," below.)

  9. Preheat your oven to 450°F.

  10. Just before placing the loaves in the oven, make several slashes across the top of each, and spritz them generously with water.

  11. Bake the bread for 20 to 22 minutes, until it's golden brown and the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, or a digital thermometer inserted into the center registers 200°F.

  12. Remove the loaves from the oven, and cool them on a rack.

  13. Store bread, well-wrapped, for 5 days at room temperature; freeze for up to 3 months.

Tips from our Bakers

  • For extra flavor, the dough may be refrigerated for 4 to 18 hours before baking. This will give the loaves their best flavor, and will contribute to a nice, open texture.
  • One 4-ounce jar of pitted olives, drained, will yield 1 cup of olives.