How to Make It
In a small bowl, mix the yeast with 1/4 cup of the water and let stand for 5 minutes. Sift the 2 1/2 cups of flour into a medium bowl. Stir in the salt and anise. With a wooden spoon, stir in the yeast and the remaining 3/4 cup of water until a raggy dough forms.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. With lightly floured hands, shape the dough into a ball, then flatten it into a 7-inch disk. Press the olives into the top of the loaf. Set the bread on a lightly floured baking sheet and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in volume.
Preheat the oven to 400°. Bake the bread for about 45 minutes, or until it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer the bread to a rack and let cool slightly before serving.