As promised here is the first in a new monthly series all about the wonder of homemade bread. Bread has such a special place in my heart, and I love it so much more than cake. There are days when I eat it with every meal but never have the same type twice. There are an infinite amount of variations from types of shape, oven climate, flour used, this list goes on and on and on. The art of bread making is a lost one in most homes, which is slightly ridiculous when you see everyday people whipping up the most stunning dessert creations on instagram. A basic dough consists of only 5 ingredients and needs more of a heavy hand than finesse. All you need is a decent tin, and a little upper arm strength. I have already shared how to make a simple white loaf, and the softest, fluffiest burger rolls, so I thought I would start this series with something a bit special.
I first tried a black olive loaf I was out running errands with my Mother. A local supermarket was handing out samples, and I must have gone back at least three times to try it. The salty fruitiness of olives works so well with the yeasty wheaty flavours of the bread, and brings out the subtle flavours of the olive oil in the loaf (similar to this olive focaccia). Adding an extra ingredient to a plain loaf is such a simple idea, but it immediately elevated it. As soon as I tried it I knew I would be replicating it within days. The process couldn’t have been easier, a chopped pouch of olives to my bread recipe, and within a few hours I had my own loaf wafting mediterranean daydreams fresh from the oven.
It would be far too easy to demolish this whole loaf of bread accompanied only with a few bits from the nearest deli counter. Instead I put together a few ideas for moreish open sandwiches that I will be sharing later this week.
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makes 1 loaf recipe by Jennifer Brown
560g strong white flour
5g sea salt
300ml tepid water
20ml olive oil
5g dried yeast
70g black olives
- Weight the flour and salt into a bowl.
- Mix the water and oil in a jug, stirring in the dried yeast to activate it, leave it for a couple of minutes until it starts to froth a little.
- Drain and chop the olives and set aside.
- Create a well in the flour and add the liquid.
- Bring together with a wooden spoon, then knead for 15 minutes by hand or for 10 minutes using a dough hook on an electric mixer.
- Add the olives to the dough and knead until they are well distributed throughout the dough.
- Cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place to rise for an hour, or until it’s doubled in size.
- When the dough has risen (this is the tricky bit to explain!) stretch the dough out until you have formed a thin sheet about 1cm thick.
- Fold into thirds – imagine you’re folding an A4 letter to go into a standard envelope.
- Starting at one of the thinner ends, roll the dough towards you, using your thumbs to tightly tuck the roll so it stays taut, you don’t want any gaps in the roll.
- Place the loaf in to a floured tin (I like this stone one), sprinkle with flour, cover with clingfilm and leave to rise a second time, for about an hour or until it’s doubled in size again.
- About 30-40 minutes in, turn your oven on as high as it will go (mine was about 250C) you want it screaming hot. If you have a baking stone – I used my pizza stone – put this in the oven now too.
- 10 minutes before your dough is ready put a tray of water in the bottom of the oven to create steam.
- Remove the clingfilm and put the tin in the oven for and set a timer for 10 minutes.
- When your alarm goes off, remove the water tray from the oven and let some of the steam out, and turn the oven down to 210C.
- Cook for a further 15 minutes, you know when it is cooked because it will sound hollow when you knock on the bottom of the loaf.
- Leave to cool, if you can wait that long, and then enjoy!