The smell of fresh bread, in my opinion, is well up there with some of the best smells in the world. Along with freshly cut grass, newly washed linen and summertime BBQ’s, home cooked bread really is one of the most comforting smells you can find. I’ve always found it fascinating how a single smell can somehow transport us back to a certain memory from our lives. For me, the scent of freshly baked bread reminds me of occasional trips to the local bakery after school with my Mum. Although fresh bread was never mine or my sister’s choice of treat, the smell will always remind me of these times.
This smell also takes me back to lazy Saturday mornings at home. For my parents, Saturday means fresh bread for breakfast. Usually just toasted with a little butter and jam, or burnt as my Dad likes it, but always fresh. You know it’s the weekend in the Clark household when you are woken by the smell of burning toast! A smell some people may dislike, but one that I will always find strangely comforting.
Bread is not something I buy or make too much. This is mainly down to the fact that I will happily eat the whole loaf myself with just a block of butter, so for my health and my waistline I feel it’s best to just have it as an occasional treat. Italian breads are usually my favourite options when I let myself indulge in a slice or two, so I thought olives would be the perfect choice to use in my latest bread recipe. After a few attempts, I think I’ve got this loaf pretty spot on. The only problem now is that I want to bake it every day!
400g strong bread flour
100g green olives, pitted and roughly chopped
1 and a half teaspoons of dry active yeast
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
220ml warm water
- Mix the strong bread flour, yeast, olives, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Pour in the olive oil and warm water and begin to mix all the ingredients together.
- After a minute of mixing the dough, turn it out onto a lightly floured worktop and knead for around 10 minutes adding more flour if it becomes too sticky.
- After 10 minutes or so put the dough into a large, slightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Leave in a warm place to rise for around 2 hours.
- When the rising time is nearly up preheat your oven to gas mark 8/220C or 200C for fan assisted ovens. By now your dough should have almost doubled in size. Turn out again onto a lightly floured worktop and punch the dough down a bit. Shape into a small loaf, score some marks over the top and place into a large baking tin.
- Put into the centre of your preheated oven and as soon as the door is closed turn the temperature down to gas mark 6/200C or 180C for fan assisted ovens. Bake for around 30 minutes making sure not to open the door at all through the cooking time.
- After 30 minutes remove from the oven and leave to cool in tin for 5 minutes before carefully transferring to a cooling rack. Leave to cool completely before cutting into it.
Enjoy with pasta, casseroles or even as the base for some perfect Italian style sandwiches.