Sunday, December 09, 2007

Olive bread

From Maggie Beer's new extravaganza cookbook, Maggie's Harvest. This is a big, quilted hardcover book of over 700 pages, arranged by ingredient and season and full of anecdotes. I think it's just lovely, and very inspiring: makes me want to plant orchards and start catering autumn feasts in the vineyard of slow-roasted beef cheek and poached figs for 200.

This is the first thing I have made so far.

Olive bread
  • 2 tbsps finely chopped rosemary ( I would add more)
  • 2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  • 850g (5 and a half cups) strong bread flour, plus extra
  • large pinch salt
  • 15 g dried yeast
  • 2 thirds of a cup pitted green or black olives (not both) (I used a whole cup)
  • approx 500ml (2 cups) warm water

Fry the rosemary in the oil till fragrant, then set aside. Mix the flour, yeast, salt and oil mixture in a big bowl, add the olives and pour in the water slowly, mixing to make a soft dough. You might not need all the water. Move to a floured bench and knead till soft and satiny. Maggie said at least 15 minutes, but mine was smooth and satiny after about 6-7 minutes. Put the dough back into the olive-oil-smeared bowl and let rise for 1 and a half hours. Cover it with a wet tea towel first. Knock it back and shape into rolls or loaves as you like. Put on trays, cover with damp tea towel and let rise again for 20 minutes while you preheat the oven to 220 C. Bake for 15-20 minutes, then turn bread over and give it another 5 minutes in the oven. Cool on wire rack.

The colour is quite pale, which I'm not sure I like, but the inside is definitely nice and moist. A couple of days later I toasted a couple of slices, then added chopped baby tomatoes, salt and pepper, basil and olive oil on top to make a breakfast bruscetta.

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