Homemade Olive Oil Bread, Straight from Your Pantry

You can bake your own bread. Here’s how.

It’s easy to take olive oil, our number one pantry must-have, for granted. That’s why this month we are honoring olive oil, partnering with Ashley Rodriguez of Not Without Salt to share tips, insights and recipes featuring olive oil.

If the smell of bread baking in the oven could be bottled, it would be the best perfume ever. But despite the smell (and taste) of freshly baked bread, it is easy to write off homemade bread as too difficult or time-consuming.

This olive oil bread recipe is here to change that.

Olive oil bread is fairly straightforward to make, and adding olive oil to the rising dough not only imparts a soft, grassy (or peppery depending on your oil choice) and fragrant flavor, but it also gives your bread a wonderful tenderness that makes it perfectly suited to accompany a salad or a bowl of soup. The glory of this recipe is that it can be used as a base for all sorts of delicious breads. Try swapping out the fennel and gruyere in the recipe below for dried apricots and chopped bittersweet chocolate or blue cheese and crisp, roughly chopped bacon. Or if you prefer simpler bread, this loaf is irresistible on its own.


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Olive Oil Bread with Caramelized Fennel and Gruyere

"Here, the sweet caramelized fennel compliments the rich, nutty gruyere beautifully. But, if you prefer, you can use another type of cheese. I suggest one that melts nice such as a cheddar or Fontina — I would avoid harder cheese like Parmesan and ones that don’t melt, like a Feta." –Ashley

Servings: 1 loaf



For the caramelized fennel:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 bulb of fennel, halved, cored and sliced into planks
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

For the bread:

  • 1 packet active dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • ⅓ cup great quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 bulb caramelized fennel, cooled and chopped
  • 1 cup grated gruyere
  • ½-1 teaspoon fennel seeds


To make the caramelized fennel: Add the olive oil to a heavy skillet over medium high heat.  Add the fennel in a single layer and dust with sugar and salt.  Allow to cook without moving for 3-4 minutes.  Turn over and continue on the other side till both sides are deeply caramelized.  Cool.

For the bread: In a large mixing bowl, combine yeast, honey and water. Stir to combine and allow to rest for about 5 minutes, or until yeast begins to foam. Add the olive oil, flour and salt to the bowl and stir to combine into a shaggy ball. Knead for 1 minute until dough is smooth and a round ball forms.

Remove the dough and set aside. Brush or rub a little bit of olive oil inside the bowl. Place the dough back into the bowl, cover bowl with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Once doubled, remove dough to a lightly floured surface and press into a rectangle. Spread half of the fennel and gruyere and fold in both sides like you are folding a business letter. Press gently into a rectangle again and add the rest of the fennel and gruyere. Fold again as you would a business letter and then tuck sides under, forming dough into a ball.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place dough on a parchment lined baking sheet, brush with olive oil and allow to rise again for 30 minutes, lightly draped with plastic wrap to cover.  Just before baking, sprinkle with fennel seeds and flake salt. 

Bake for 30 minutes or until deep golden brown and internal temperature is 190 degrees.

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