This bread is SO AWESOME in every way. I’m very excited about it, as you can tell from the capital letters. I saw it on Joy the Baker’s site and wanted to get up out of my seat and make it straight away, with no delays. However, I restrained myself because I already had half a loaf of bread on the counter, and I’m only ever moments away from a bread overdose these days as it is, without wilfully making it worse. I bookmarked the recipe on Pinterest and left it at that. Then, I had the wondrous idea of reducing the recipe to make just a tiny loaf, and making it as an accompaniment for dinner. This wondrous idea was helped along by another rather lovely idea for a pasta dish, which I’ll post on Friday – I just love double carbs, pasta and bread is the best…
So, to the bread. I made it after work, on a school night, which did mean a late dinner but I didn’t care one jot. Not a speck nor a spot did I care. I was too excited about the meal, and I enjoyed every bite all the more for the wait and the effort that went in to it. Even after I quartered the amounts, I was left with enough bread to feed about four people, if sliced carefully. Since I was dining alone, I could have eaten the lot myself, but I once again exercised considerable self control and only had two thin slices. WIth butter. Sh.
The bread is very soft and full of flavour. I tried not to over-do it in terms of adding new ingredients to the dough, but next time I might up the ante a little more to send it off the chain. The excellence chain, that is. Here is the recipe for one little boule of spicy garlic-olive bread, my homage to Joy the Baker’s great recipe:
- 1/4 cup warm water plus 1 tbsp, separated
- 1/2 tsp instant yeast
- pinch sugar
- 1/2 cup wholewheat bread flour
- 1/2 cup white bread flour
- 25g unsalted butter
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 tbsp chopped rosemary leaves
- 4 black olives, pitted and chopped
- 1/4 tsp chili flakes
- pinch sea salt
- several turns seasoning grinder (if you’ve been to Rock Salt before, you’ll know this means salt, pepper, fennel, garlic and chili)
- 2 – 3 tbsp olive oil, separated
These are the ingredients exactly as I used them. Next time (there will be a next time, oh yes), I’ll add more garlic, rosemary and chili. Or maybe different herbs. Or maybe some cheese. Or maybe salted butter… It’s the kind of recipe you can play with, if you’re so inclined. If you’re not, following the recipe will give you great results.
- Whisk the water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl, and allow to rest, covered, for five minutes. The yeast should now be foamy and bubbly.
- While the yeast is bubbling, melt the butter in a small frying pan, then take off the heat and add the garlic, rosemary, olives and chilli flakes. This looks and smells great on its own, as you can imagine.
- Put the two flours, salt and pepper (and any other seasonings) into the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook attachment. You can also knead the bread by hand if you don’t mind your hands smelling of garlic, rosemary, olives and chili. Mix the flours and seasoning, then add the rest of the ingredients, including the extra tablespoon of warm water.
- Start the mixer, and set a timer for ten minutes. Watch the dough and stop and scrape the sides down as necessary to help the dough come together. It will be a bit tricky at first because it’s such a tiny amount of bread dough, but with a little help you’ll get it into a ball, and you can leave it for the rest of the time to be kneaded until smooth and firm, and possibly wrapped around the dough hook.
- Place in an oiled plastic or glass bowl, cover with cling film and a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place – possibly over a pot of very hot water – for an hour. After 45 minutes, turn on the oven to 220C.
- After an hour, the dough has doubled in size and is very light and fluffy. I was sad to knead it back into a firm ball again, but that’s what you must do; knead the dough by hand for two minutes.
- Roll into a ball and cut a cross into the top.
- Pour about a tablespoon of the oil into a deep lidded baking dish, and place the bread dough on top. Drizzle with a further 1 – 2 tablespoons olive oil, then season further with your seasonings of choice. I used my super special Le Creuset heart shaped dish again, I am determined to use my favourite things more often, and not keep them ‘for good’.
- Put the lid on and bake the bread for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 200C, remove the lid, and bake for a further ten to fifteen, until browned and hollow-sounding when tapped. I forgot to remove the lid, then remembered after the second ten minutes. I removed the lid then, and turned the temperature back up to 22oC for *another* ten minutes to colour the bread. Miraculously, the bread still turned out delicious.
- Allow to cool – I could only bear to give it ten minutes in the coolest part of the house, it was cool enough to handle and didn’t fall apart when I sliced it, so that was good enough for me.
- Slice and serve with soup, stew, pasta, cheese, butter, pate, tapenade… All at once or one at a time, as takes your fancy.
It’s not hard to make this bread, and the end result is so interesting, in flavour and in texture, that it’s worth a little wait. I’m especially pleased with adding wholemeal flour to the dough, giving it a slightly nutty, deeper flavour. It’s a moist bread that prefers to be cut into thick slices, or you could quarter it in big, chunky wedges if you like. Think how appetising that would look perched next to some thick soup. YUM.
Submitted to Yeastspotting? You bet!