A Savory Loaf Packed With Cheese and Olives

I’ve eaten my fair share — arguably more than my fair share — of sweet loaf cakes since the start of this pandemic. But not so many savory ones. So, to rectify that, I baked a cheesy olive bread with chopped fresh thyme, and served it, still warm, for breakfast on Wednesday.

To make it, heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9-inch loaf pan (or line it with parchment).

In a large bowl, whisk together 2½ cups/320 grams all-purpose flour (or a combination of all-purpose and some whole-wheat or rye flour), 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1½ teaspoons baking powder and ½ teaspoon baking soda.

In a smaller bowl (or a large measuring cup so you don’t have to wash a bowl), whisk together ¼ cup/60 milliliters olive oil and 1 cup/240 milliliters fermented dairy product like buttermilk or plain yogurt. (If using thick Greek yogurt, thin it down with a little water or milk.) I used some yogurt plus the whey leftover from yogurt making, and it worked perfectly. Whisk in 2 eggs.

Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry. It’s a heavy, thick batter.

Now, switch to a rubber spatula and fold in ¾ cup/110 grams sliced pitted olives and 1¾ cups/7 ounces grated cheese. (I used Gruyère, but Cheddar or another firm, grating cheese is fine.) Finally, add a tablespoon or so fresh thyme leaves (or use fresh oregano, marjoram or rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme). I should have added some freshly ground black pepper to the batter, but didn’t think of it. Next time.

Spread the batter in the pan and scatter another ¼ cup/1 ounce grated cheese on top. I also tossed on some fresh thyme sprigs just to use them up and because they look pretty. But they don’t add any real flavor at this point, so feel free to skip.

Bake until the cheese is browned and the top of the loaf springs back when lightly pressed, 45 to 55 minutes. Serve warm as soon as you can unmold it (about 30 minutes after baking). Or try it toasted later in the day. I like mine piled with sliced tomatoes and onions. But if you’ve got a jar of tapenade in the fridge, you could spread that on top to underscore the savory, olive point.

This is part of a series in which Melissa Clark teaches you how to cook with pantry staples. See more. From the Pantry will resume on Monday, June 22.

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