Rosemary Kalamata Olive Rolls

Happy New Year! I hope you were able to celebrate in your own favorite way, whether that was a big event or just going to bed. I had such a good time – a relaxed night with a couple friends. We made an indulgent dinner and dessert and watched When Harry Met Sally. We briefly considered heading to a local park to watch the Space Needle fireworks, but quickly abandoned that idea in favor of staying warm, and caught the show on the local channel. It was perfect.

And yes, I have now begun my month without sugar. Today is Day 4 of my captivity. I am not sure I thought this through…skipping dessert is hard! However I am holding out and hoping for some positive effects. I will keep you updated!

Fortunately, there are still some delicious things to bake, like these Rosemary Kalamata Olive Rolls. Let me just tell you about these. They are the. best. rolls. I have EVER had. I first had them Christmas Day – our honorary aunt Kathy brought them. Soon the whole room was raving about their flavor, and I found myself wildly calculating in my mind how many future cookies I was willing to forgo in order to have a second roll.

The magic begins with rosemary and kalamata olives. The fragrance these two elements give off during the baking process is something special.

The rolls are brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt just before baking, which gives the top a tasty crunch.

Kathy was so kind as to share her recipe with me. Below are the instructions she sent me, nearly word for word. I hope you make these! You need them in your life!

Rosemary Kalamata Olive Rolls

Recipe courtesy of Kathy

Makes about 24 rolls

Ingredients

3 cups tepid water (I microwave in a glass pyrex cup for 70 seconds and it’s perfect)
1 teaspoon of sugar or honey (to feed the yeast)
2 envelopes of yeast (quick acting)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2.5 lbs (more or less) of flour (1 lb of flour is equivalent to 3 3/4 – 4 cups)
1 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
¼ cup finely chopped rosemary (don’t use dry, and chop the fresh just before you need it because it turns brown)
Good olive oil
2 tablespoons of high quality French sea salt (I like the gray sea salt or sel de mer: not fine, not super chunky)

Equipment
Two sheet pans lined with parchment paper.
Sharp kitchen shears or a very sharp knife to slash the rolls
Pastry brush
KitchenAid stand mixer

Directions

Start by chopping the rosemary and olives.

Pour the two envelopes of yeast and the sugar into your KitchenAid mixing bowl. Add the tepid water, stir, and let stand for 3-5 minutes.

Add 4 cups of the flour, one tablespoon kosher salt, the olives and rosemary and turn the mixer on low (it should be on low the entire time).

Keep adding flour one heaping tablespoon at a time, kneading it for a total time of 10 minutes. The dough should be silky and a little loose. Don’t be tempted to use too much flour.

Cover the KitchenAid bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 45-60 minutes. Punch it down and let it rise again (if you are short on time, once is sufficient).

While dough is rising, prepare two sheet pans with parchment paper. Pour some olive oil into a small bowl.

With oiled hands, make each roll approximately 4 ounces in size. (If you don’t have a kitchen scale, just estimate the size so that you make about 24 rolls.) Make the roll by smoothing the dough and tucking it under the bottom. Place about 12 on each pan. Let them rise uncovered for another 40 minutes or so—they should almost double in size.

While the rolls are rising, position two racks evenly in the oven. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Cut a cross on the top of each roll, brush them with olive oil and sprinkle them with the French sea salt.

Bake for 20-25 minutes at 450 degrees F until the tops are lightly brown.  Switch the pans half way through the cooking process so they brown evenly.  Uniformity and even browning give the “bakery” look. Let the rolls stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.

These freeze really well and warm up as though you just made them.

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