MAKES 16 ROLLS
To make it easier to pit the olives for these addictive rolls (from chef Joël Guillet at Le Mas du Langoustier), gently crush them with a rolling pin first.
2 1/4 tsp. (1 package) active dry yeast
3 3/4 cups flour
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. wheat gluten
2/3 cup lukewarm milk
3 1/2 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
1 cup pitted, coarsely chopped mixed olives
such as niçoise, green or black arnaud, or picholine
4 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1. In a medium bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/3 cup lukewarm water and set aside for 10 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, sugar, and wheat gluten and mix well.
2. Add milk and melted butter to yeast mixture, mix thoroughly, then gradually add to flour mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon. Mix in enough lukewarm water, up to 1/3 cup, to form a soft, sticky dough, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, 10–15 minutes. Form dough into a ball, wrap with plastic, and set aside for 5 minutes.
3. Working on a lightly floured surface, flatten dough with your hands into a rectangle about 8" x 11". In a small bowl, combine olives, thyme, and oil. Evenly spread olive mixture over dough, then form dough into a ball. Knead, taking care that olives are uniformly distributed, until dough is smooth, about 5 minutes. Shape dough into 2 16"-long cylinders, then cut each into 8 rounds with a sharp knife. Roll each round into a tight ball, arrange on two well-oiled cookie sheets, loosely cover with plastic, and set aside to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
4. Preheat oven to 450°. Place a pan of water in bottom of oven (steam helps rolls develop a nice crust), then uncover rolls and bake until lightly browned, 10–15 minutes. Remove from oven and serve warm or at room temperature.