Recipe: The "Muffaletta" Sourdough Loaf

Updated: Jan 25, 2020

This rustic loaf has the classic flavor of a New Orleans Muffaletta built into the bread itself. The classic muffuletta sandwich is made up of a muffuletta loaf that is split horizontally and covered with layers of marinated olive salad, salami, ham, Swiss cheese, provolone, and mortadella.

This sandwich has a lot of history, and I have fond memories of eating them. Sometimes it is cut up small and served cold at parties, or heated up from great places like Central Grocery in the French Quarter.

But, I've always been left wanting by the quality of the bread. The flavor profile of this sandwich is too good to be wasted on a dry piece of bread. By the way, if you don't like olives you might as well head to another one of my recipes!

What You'll Need (Levain Build - makes more than you need)

100 grams mature sourdough starter

100 grams King Arthur Organic Whole Wheat Flour

150 grams King Arthur Organic Bread Flour

170 grams warm water

What you'll need (final mix)

800 grams King Arthur Organic Bread Flour

200 grams King Arthur Organic Whole Wheat Flour

20 grams Kosher Salt

200 grams levain (see build below)

800 grams warm water

Olive Salad

4 Cloves Garlic, minced

150 grams Pimento Stuffed Olives, chopped in half

150 grams Kalamata Olives, chopped in half

1 Tablespoon Red Pepper Flakes

1 Tablespoon Capers

1 Tablespoon Diced Shallots

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons Chopped Curly Parsley

3 Tablespoons Chopped Oregano

If you don't have a mature sourdough starter, check out my simple five-day process on creating one from scratch.

Here's What You Need To Do

1. At the high inoculation of 50% mature starter to flour, the levain takes roughly 3-4 hours until its ready to be incorporated. Please note that you must have a very active and healthy sourdough starter for this to work! Mix the mature starter with the flour and water, cover, and put in a warm place (72-78f).

2. Once your levain is ready, let's start by adding 80% of the total water into a bowl. Next, you want to dissolve the 200 grams of levain into the water. It may not dissolve completely, which is fine.

3. Slowly add your flour with one hand while mixing with the other. You will, at some point, need both hands. Your goal is to incorporate the water into the flour. Once it starts to come together and feels dry, let it rest for 30 minutes.

4. Proceed to add most of the remaining water. You can save 5-10 grams of the water for when the salt gets added after the next 30 minutes rest period.

5. Once all of your desired water is added and there is no dry flour, transfer to another tub or bowl and let rest for an hour. It's wise to transfer from the bowl you mixed in because you will start to get dried up flour particles interfering with your folds later on.

6. After 45 minutes passes by, add your salt and the remaining bit of water until it's incorporated. At the first stretch and fold, we will fold in the olive salad mixture.

7. A few minutes before your first stretch and fold, you can now make the olive salad. You'll want to make it right before your first fold so that the mixture is evenly distributed within itself and therefore easier to fold into your dough. This is a very simple process. Add all of the above ingredients for the olive salad into a bowl and mix.

8. Pour this mixture directly onto the dough, and proceed to stretch each corner of the dough over the middle. It's perfectly fine for the mixture to escape out and under the dough. This is even better, as it will allow the dough to begin distributing it during the fermentation process. Once you have stretched your dough a few times, cover it and let it rest for another 30 minutes. I only do 3 stretch and folds at 30-minute intervals with this bread.

9. Because this is a same day, ambient temperature bake, make sure you have an environment that is 70f or higher for your dough to bulk in. If your starter is healthy and your levain ready, your dough should be extremely active with the addition of olives. After you complete your stretch and folds, allow the dough to achieve a total of 4-5 hours of bulk fermentation.

10. Once you notice your dough is bubbly on the top and is beginning to develop a web-like structure at the bottom, you'll know its ready to be shaped for the final proof. I love working with this dough because it's extremely active and fun to handle.

11. Lightly flour your work surface and your banneton/basket/bowl that you will be proofing your bread in. Divide your dough and give it a very gentle pre-shape - that is, form each half into a ball and allow the gluten to rest for 15 minutes before you apply a final shape.

12. If you're like me and you enjoy skipping the pre-shape, you can go straight into a final shape and place your dough into your basket. I believe skipping pre shape is beneficial because it's less time the dough gets messed with, however, I've had wonderful results with and without.

13. Proof in baskets or bowls for 30 minutes and then transfer to the fridge for 14 hours.

14. You can bake these in cast iron pans or on pizza stones. Preheat either of these items with the oven to 500 degrees. BTW, I use the Ooni pizza stones as it is designed to withstand high heat. I've had plenty of cheaper stones crack at 450 degrees. If I'm using cast iron, I'm using a Lodge Combo Cooker.

15. If using the cast iron, no need to spray the oven or add extra steam. If using the pizza stone, use a spray bottle after loading your bread into the oven and spray the sides and back.

16. For this loaf, you can bake it seam side up to get a rustic crackling, or you can score with a razor blade and load into the oven. Remember that halfway through this bake, we will add the topping onto the loaf.

17. After you load your loaf in, lower your oven to 475 or 450 depending on your oven. Bake the loaf for 20 minutes on the stone/in the cast iron.

18. After the first 20 minutes, let out the steam and continue baking for another 20 minutes. I like to bake dark, so sometimes I go a little extra. I finish my bake with the oven door open for the last 5 minutes or so to let all the moisture out.

19. Let your loaf cool (or not), but do enjoy! I would recommend cutting a few slices, getting yourself some quality Italian deli meats, adding a bit more olive salad and cheese, and you've got yourself an Artisan Bryan Muffaletta!

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