Olive bread on a special chopping board made by my uncle Simon as a wedding gift
It was a beautifully sunny day here in Melbourne this Saturday but there was still no doubt we are well entrenched in winter. It was very chilly out of the sunshine and comfort food was in order. A good day to bake bread and tick something off my mental 'to bake' list!
My hankering to bake fresh bread has been growing stronger since I started smelling the amazing aroma of a colleague's home-baked bread toasting in the work kitchen. We spoke about the wonders of her bread machine and I wished that my heaving kitchen cupboards could fit one. Then my resourceful self kicked in, gave me a swift slap and reminded me that bread was being baked well before we had machines for everything imaginable. So on Saturday, I pulled out a trusty Australian Women's Weekly book on muffins, scones and bread to get all wholesome and knead my way to delicious, fresh bread. Nothing like bread straight from the oven. Unfortunately, home-baked bread doesn't stay fresh like its commercial preservative-laden counterparts so this is best eaten within 24 hours of baking.
Olive bread with sage and oregano
4 teaspoons (14g) dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
310ml (1¼ cups) warm milk
250ml (1 cup) warm water
300g (2 cups) plain flour
80ml (1/3 cup) olive oil
3 ½ cups (525g) plain flour, extra
1 teaspoon salt
1¼ cups (150g) seeded black olives, halved
2 tablespoons shredded fresh sage
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano (herbs straight from the garden take the wholesome baker feeling to a whole new level!)
Combine yeast, sugar, milk and water in large bowl, whisk until yeast is dissolved. Whisk in sifted flour, cover, stand in warm place about 30 minutes or until mixture is doubled in size (I sat the bowl on top of the preheating oven).
Stir in oil, then sifted extra flour and salt. Turn dough onto floured surface, knead about 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic.
Place dough in large greased bowl, cover, stand in warm place about 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size.
Turn dough onto floured surface, knead in remaining ingredients. Roll dough to 30cm x 35cm oval. Fold dough almost in half, transfer to large greased oven tray, shape dough into an oval. Cover dough, stand in warm place about 45 minutes or until dough has increased in size by half. Sift about another 2 tablespoons of flour over bread, bake in moderately hot oven (200-210C) for about 45 minutes.
Now all you need to do is marvel at the monstrous mound you've created.
Inhale the yeasty aroma of delicious carbohydrates!
Eat every last slice fresh from the oven spread with butter -sharing recommended!
It's naughty to even mention it, but next time I bake this I'm going to sprinkle the top with some salt flakes. The salty tang could take this bread to a new level of yumness, especially if I use my favourite Murray River pink salk flakes.