In a large mixing bowl, mix 1-1/2 cups of the flour, the yeast, salt, and thyme. Add warm water to the dry mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping the side of the bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes.
Using a spoon, stir in olives and as much of the remaining flour as you can.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a stiff dough that's smooth and elastic (8 to 10 minutes total). Shape dough into a ball. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease surface. Cover; let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 hour).
Punch dough down. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, lightly grease a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with cornmeal.
Shape each portion of dough into an oval-shaped loaf (about 7x4 inches). Place on the baking sheet. Cover and let the dough rise in a warm place until nearly doubled (30 to 40 minutes). Cut 3 or 4 slits in top of each loaf.
Brush dough with water; dust with additional flour. Place a large, shallow pan on bottom rack of a 400 degree F oven. Pour 2 cups boiling water into the pan. Place the baking sheet with two loaves on a middle rack in the oven.
Bake for 10 minutes. Carefully remove pan of water. Bake the bread for 20 to 25 minutes more or until the bread sounds hollow when you tap it. Immediately remove the bread from the baking sheet. Cool on wire racks. Makes 2 loaves (16 servings).