Olive, herb and chilli bread (based on Delia Smith’s simple white bread recipe)

My partner loves home-made bread and everytime I make a loaf, it is gone before I notice. This works for me as I’m not a huge fan of bread but I do enjoy baking it. It’s a win-win situation for both parties here. The recent snow  and cold snap made me want to test the limits of my oven-risen bread technique. The good news is that it still works.

The bread recipe is based on Delia’s Plain and Simple white bread http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/type-of-dish/bread/plain-and-simple-white-bread.html with my additions to it.

The bread has risen; Bottom is cooked and sounds hollow; Profile of the bread; Olive herb and chilli bread being eaten

Ingredients:

700 gms strong white flour

2 and 1/2 tsp dry active yeast

2 tsp sugar

350mL luke warm water

20 pitted green olives – sliced

20 pitted black olives – sliced

2 tsp of mixed herbs – I used fresh basil, sage, thyme and rosemary from my garden/fridge

2 tsp of chilli flakes

1 tsp of salt

olive oil for brushing

Method:

1. In a small bowl, pour half a cup of luke warm water and mix in 2 tsp of sugar.

2. Sprinkle the dry active yeast on top of the water and allow to froth for 20 minutes. If it doesn’t froth within 5 mins, your yeast is probably old/getting old so get a fresh packet.

3. This was one of Delia’s tips and I thought it was very useful. Turn the oven to it’s lowest setting (50ºC in my oven). Then sift the flour into a shallow bowl and warm in the over for 10-15 minutes while the yeast is frothing/dividing. Warm flour encourages yeast to divide more rapidly.

4. In a large bowl, pour the warm flour and add the olives, chilli flakes, mixed herbs and salt. Mix until the olives and herbs are uniformly distributed.

5. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour the yeast mixture into the centre.

6. Mix the dough, adding water bit by bit until it comes together into a ball.

7. At this point, turn your oven off. In addition, line a loaf tin or a tray with baking paper.

8. Knead the ball of dough on a lightly floured surface for 5-10 minutes.

9. You will know it’s ready when the dough is soft and elastic and feels like your cheek when you pull it and let go.

10. I usually make the dough into a ball at this point, pour some olive oil into my hands and dab the dough with the oil. Alternatively, you can oil the tray and toss the ball of dough in it to coat it.

11. Put the dough in the tin/tray you prepared in step 7, cover with glad-wrap (cling film) and place in the just-warm over for 2 hours or until doubled in size.

12. After 2 hours, punch it down and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

13. Pre-heat the oven to 230ºC and bake the bread for 45 minutes until the top is brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.

14. Let it cool before slicing and serve with hot soup or with butter or both 🙂

Tips:

1. I made the dough in the afternoon but we weren’t going to have it until dinner time so I put it in the fridge until I needed it. Bring to room temperature for 30 minutes prior to baking.

2. To ensure that the bread is properly cooked, I usually flip the loaf once it is nice and brown on top . Then I put it back in the oven, bottom facing up for 5 minutes before turning the oven off.

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