I have recently been on holidays in Italy (yet again), drawn back by the lure of bread, cheese, pizza, pasta and gelato. I just love holidays in Italy, being able to chill out on a beautiful beach with a book, take breaks for ice-cream (it’s holidays okay…), dip into a seaside restaurant for fresh fish for lunch with a bottle of local wine, more sunbathing, then pre-dinner drinks followed by a big plate of fresh pasta heaped with seafood, butter, herbs and prawns, and more wine, and bread… Lots of bread. Okay I’m getting a little distracted and hungry again just thinking about it.
One of my favourite things to eat there is a Caprese salad with fresh, local buffalo mozzarella, juicy tomatoes and basil mopped up with crusty bread. While I was in Puglia I had some of the most incredible olive breads and decided that I had to make one as soon as I got back. So off to the market I trotted and filled up a bag of salty, black olives. While my bread looks brown it’s actually white, all the kneading of the olives into the dough coloured it. You could always add the olives into the bread after kneading for a dramatic contrast.
This bread is made using fast-action yeast and so is very quick and easy to make. Why not make it this weekend and enjoy it with some fresh mozzarella and a good bottle of red?
500g white bread flour
1 large handful black olives chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 pinch salt
1 sachet of fast action yeast
300ml warm water
1 heaped teaspoon of brown sugar
- In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, salt and oil. Give it a quick stir and then stir in the yeast.
- Now stir in the water and stir for a minute until all ingredients are combined. You can either add in the olives now, or after kneading so that the bread is less brown in colour.
- Knead the bread on a clean, floured surface for at least 10 minutes, or if you have an electric mixer with a dough hook you could throw it in that for half the time.
- Shape the dough and coat it with a little olive oil. Pop it into an oiled bowl and cover in cling film. Leave it in a warm place until it has double in size which can take between 1.5 – 2 hours.
- When the dough has risen bake in an oven, preheated to 220c for 35-40 minutes. A trick here is to throw a few ice cubs or half a glass of water into the oven 5 minutes before putting the bread in, the steam will help create a nice crust on the bread. I like to slash a blade or sharp knife across the top of the bread too before putting it in the oven to allow the steam to escape.
- The baked loaf should sound hollow when tapped underneath. Let the bread cool on a wire rack and enjoy with some butter, cheese or hummus!