Rosemary Olive Knots {ModBak}

Rosemary Olive Knots is the next to last recipe in the Breads section of the Modern Baker Challenge. The individually knotted rolls are stuffed with a savory mixture of olives, rosemary, and olive oil. So these rolls are not a side dish, complement your meal kind of bread; they stand on their own and are best served with a strong, hearty dish or on their own, split and filled with strong flavored cheese or meat.

As with many of the recipes in this section, this one calls for mixing the dough in the food processor. And as with the past few recipes, I ignored this part of the instructions and mixed it in my Kitchen Aid mixer.

The dough was fairly slack, but it rose well and developed some body as it fermented.

After the initial rise, I pressed the dough out into a square and put it in the fridge to chill for about an hour.

While the dough was chilling, I mixed the filling, which consisted of olives, rosemary, olive oil, and cracked black pepper. If you’ve ever tried to chop olives on a cutting board, you know what a challenge it can be. I always end up with as many on the counter and floor as on the board, so I came up with a better idea — chopping them directly in the bowl with kitchen shears.

The recipe calls for Gaeta or Kalamata olives. I used Kalamatas, but I was a little concerned as they can be a bit on the tart side, and these particular olives were. Given the strong, pungent flavor of rosemary, I worried that the rolls might come out bitter-tasting.

In order to strip the leaves off the rosemary, I held the stem with one hand and ran my thumb and finger from top to bottom, which caused the tender leaves to fall off the stem.

After mixing the filling ingredients, I retrieved the dough from the refrigerator.

I spread the olive mixture over the lower half of the dough.

Then I folded the dough in half.

The recipe makes 12 rolls, and I scored the dough to create a guide for cutting even strips.

Now came the fun part. As I read the recipe, I couldn’t imagine how it was possible to tie the strips into knots without spilling much of the filling out onto the board. In the end, I lost less filling than I thought I might, but I still left a good bit of it on the board.

I set the rolls aside to proof for an hour. While the rolls rose, I preheated the oven to 400° F.

I baked the proofed rolls for about 25 minutes, until they were golden brown and firm to the touch.

The rolls smelled amazing — in addition to the normal, fresh-baked bread smell, the rosemary and olives gave the rolls an irresistible aroma. I couldn’t wait to try them and wondered if my concern about the strong, bitter flavor of the olives and rosemary had been overblown.

I served the rolls with a dinner of chicken and forbidden rice. We all enjoyed them, but I found that, as I had feared, the filling was a tad on the bitter side. I think a milder olive would have been a better choice. But overall, these rolls were very good and would make an impressive dinner roll to serve to company.



  1. Kayte said,

    September 6, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    Yep, gotta taste those kalamata every time, I find that with all olives actually…and pickles…everyone has their own brine or whatever. Anyway, these look really good and am looking forward to making them, so thanks for the olive heads up. Also, thanks for the process photos…great job!

    • gaaarp said,

      September 6, 2010 at 8:01 pm

      You’re welcome, Kayte. I think a jumbo green olive would be good in these, like the kind you get in the deli section.

      Hey, don’t forget to pick your Modern Baker recipe(s) for the next section!

  2. sallybr said,

    September 6, 2010 at 9:44 am

    I am a Kalamata addict, I wonder if I would have loved your bread even if a little “bitter”

    I loved the shaping, you can certainly adapt the recipe to so many different fillings…

    great post, thank you!

    • gaaarp said,

      September 6, 2010 at 12:38 pm

      Thanks, Sally. I really like Kalamatas, too, but these were more bitter than any I’ve had. Not sure why. The rolls were still good.

  3. ap269 said,

    September 6, 2010 at 4:02 am

    The rolls look great. I won’t make them, though, because I really hate olives *duckandhide*…..

    • gaaarp said,

      September 6, 2010 at 12:39 pm

      That’s OK. I always cheat or skip the breads with bacon or ham, too, since I don’t like pork.

  4. September 6, 2010 at 3:35 am

    I enjoy reading your posts so much! We get a variety of green olive called picholine which is very mild, I quite like using green olives in breads but haven’t made any bread with olives in for ages – thanks for reminding me, it must have been quite hard to manipulate those soft strips into pretty rolls with oliives and rosemary everywhere. I love the colour of the crust you got! Great stuff!

    • gaaarp said,

      September 6, 2010 at 12:41 pm

      Thanks for the kinds words, Joanna. Yes, shaping the knots was quite an experience, but they came out better than I anticipated. I’ve never heard of pincholines; I’ll have to look for them and give them a try.

  5. Margaret said,

    September 5, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    Glad to know these are good. Will use a different olive when I make. Thanks for the heads up. They look great.

    • gaaarp said,

      September 6, 2010 at 12:26 am

      Thanks, Margaret. I wish I had tasted the Kalamatas at the store before I bought them. Sometimes they’re more bitter than others. If I had tasted them, I probably would have substituted some other kind of olive.

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