Tag Archives: olive

Bread. Perfected.

Jalapeno and olive bread

Ok – ignore any previous posts about how to make bread. I really do think I have it now. And if I’m honest, some of the advice I gave in the past is dubious, and should now be superseded by this latest and not to be beaten advice…

Olive and Jalapeno bread

So here’s how to make the perfect loaf: Start with about 500g of a really good flour – I use a mix of stoneground strong malted blend flour and standard organic wholemeal flour. Add a few table spoons of dried yeast, and a equal amount of good sea salt, then a few decent glugs of good olive or rapeseed oil and a couple of glasses of cold water. Mix it together adding water or flour as required to end up with a dough that is slightly sticky to the touch, but can still be kneaded for at least 10 minutes (I use use a mixer with a bread hook, but I expect it’s even better done by hand)

Now leave the bread in a large bowl covered in cling film (I realise now that you don’t need damp teatowels) in the oven at less than 50c for as long as you can bear – at least an hour and a half but two hours would be even better. This is your first proving – it should at least double in size.

Now roughly chop green olives and jalapenos and mix them well into the bread. Don’t worry that you’re knocking all the air out of the bread – it will come back. You can also add a good couple of handfuls of grated gruyere at this point if you like (in fact, do – it really works well – especially if you’re going to toast the bread).

Now set the oven to its hottest and form the bread into a loaf – I like a round boule, but really you can do whatever you like – just make sure that you put a few scores in the top, sprinkle over some flour, place it on top of the warming oven and cover again in cling film.

When the oven has reached its hottest temperature (usually after about 30 mins) your bread will have completed its second proving and will be ready to bake. Place it in the oven along with a glass full of boiling water, thrown into the oven shutting the door immediately (try to hold on to the glass).

After about 10 minutes, chuck in another glass of boiling water, and another after 20 mins. If you made a single large loaf, it will be ready after 35 mins. If you made smaller loaves then they will be ready faster.

That’s it. The best yet.
And no blabbing on about other things. A simple post about food. Who would have thought?


It should be easier than this…

What was it that made me believe that baking bread was easy? Maybe it is easy and I am just incapable? Is it like being green fingered in that you either have it or you don’t? (For someone who likes to think that he’s quite good at stuff, it frustrates me to the core that I am utterly useless at keeping plants alive: herbs, chillies, carrots, spuds, flowers, trees – I’ve killed them all) Maybe that’s what it is – I’m really good at killing plants and making rather ordinary bread.

I think I am getting better, but it still doesn’t come naturally to me at all – I really have to try hard, and even when I do, I only just about manage to produce a loaf that is kind of edible, eatable, whatever – I mean, you wouldn’t single it out if it were offered to you in a bread basket at your local Italian restaurant, but you’d probably just about force it down if I served it to you when you came over for lunch. That’s how good my bread is. It’s about as good as I was at rugby when I was in the third form (that reminds me – does anyone who was at school with me remember Mr Mullineux and the way he had to strap it to his leg when he wore shorts in rugby training? – my god that was revolting…)

Anyway – I tried particularly hard today, and, with Immie’s help, I think we may have pulled off a minor coup – we made a loaf of bread that is not only edible, but you can just about take a photo of it and post it on a blog – result. And here it is…

Gruyere and olive bread

So I start with 500g of this really good “organic oak smoked stoneground strong malted blend flour” (I know – what a bloody mouthful – but it’s pretty good). To it, add a 7g sachet of yeast, a good pinch of salt and a couple of tablespoons of honey dissolved in about 300ml of warm water. Mix the whole lot together and knead for about 10 minutes then leave in your mixing bowl in a warm place with covered with a wet tea towel for at least an hour.

In the meantime chop a couple of handfuls of olives and grate a decent sized chunk of gruyere (really as much of each as you like).

When the dough has doubled in size, take it out of the bowl and fold in the cheese and olives with your hands, divide and shape into whatever forms take your fancy and then put it onto a floured baking tray back in a warm place, covered with the damp tea towel for at least another half hour.

Heat your oven to 225 degrees and into it put a tray, half full of water. When you’re ready, put the bread in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes or until it’s golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap the bottom. That’s it.

Now cue the comments that are going to tell me what I did wrong and why I keep screwing up my bread. Bring it on people…