If you follow my blog, you will have seen that last month I ticked #12 off my bucket list and made bread from scratch (without the help of a bread maker!)
My first loaf was a Black Olive, Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Focaccia – recipe courtesy of the ever so dreamy Paul Hollywood! I was so surprised at just how good it turned out… even if it was slightly scary looking!
After making and scoffing it, I kind of got this ‘bread baking bug’! I’ve been reading Paul’s ‘100 Great Breads’ recipe book for fun, counting down the days until I can go home (to a trustworthy and working oven) and make my next loaf!
Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait too long as I went back for my birthday/bank holiday weekend at the end of May! My mum was putting together a really spread together for my birthday tea with all the family, and asked me to bake a loaf of bread for the occasion. Don’t mind if I do!
I really really really wanted to make a cheesy pull apart bread, but I think that would be more satisfying if it was fresh out the oven and oozy and delicious – don’t you? So, because I had to make the bread the night before, I baked to my mother’s request: something with sun-dried tomatoes and olives again, but not black olives. I hate black olives.
I decided on two Green Olive, Sun-dried Tomato, Onion and Rosemary Loaves – literally one of the easiest bread recipes to do!
In this blog, I’m just going to give you some basic bread making tips and the recipe for the loaf. If you’re looking for a better guide/image assisted steps, check out my other post on how to make bread from scratch.
Easy Mediterranean Bread Recipe
- 500g strong bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 40ml olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 300ml warm water
- 20g yeast, fresh. (Take 25% off if using dried or instant)
- 1 handful fresh rosemary, chopped
- 150g pitted olives, chopped
- 70g sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- Place the flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the salt to the left of the bowl and the yeast to the right, and then add the olive oil.
- Add a little of the water and begin to combine all the ingredients. Continue to add the water bits at a time until all the water has been used and you have the beginnings of a dough – this might be very sticky to begin with, don’t worry that’s normal!
- Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for around 6 minutes – put some elbow into it!
- Once the dough is shiny and elasticated, put it back into the bowl, cover with a tea towel or cling film and leave in a fairly warm place for one hour.
- After the hour is up, take the dough out of the bowl and place back onto a lightly floured surface
- Give it a quick 30 second knead and then divide it in two
- Divide the olive, tomato, rosemary and onion in two, and add equal parts to each dough – kneading, layering and combining thoroughly
- Then shape each dough into a circle, place on the baking sheet, flatten down, sprinkle with flour and leave to prove for one further hour
- Whilst the bread is resting for the final hour, preheat your oven at around 220⁰C
- After the hour, place the bread into the oven and cook for around 30 minutes or until golden brown
- Take off sheet and allow to cool on wire rack
Perfect dipped in lemony hummus, toasted with goats cheese and pine nuts, or the base for a stunning Mediterranean sandwich!
Bread Making Tips for Beginners
This was only my third attempt, so I am by no means bread baking pro of the year, but I’m an advanced beginner so know first hand the questions you might have/problems you might face:
- Keep your friends close and your enemies closer… salt and yeast! They must be kept separate until you begin kneading when they will naturally combine. Adding them to opposite sides of the bowl is a really easy way to ensure the salt won’t kill the yeast.
- It will get sticky. It’s too sticky. What have I done wrong? WHY CAN’T I GET IT OFF MY FINGERS?! Yes, it will be sticky – some breads more than others. Just keep kneading, and if you get really worried just dust your kneading surface with more flour!
- Done kneading? The first couple of times I made bread I kneaded for around 3-4 minutes and then finished it off in the Magimix to guarantee it would be properly kneaded. But, just keep going and eventually you will have a super elastic dough. If you’re not sure it’s ready, you should be able to tear a little bit off and stretch it to around 20cm.
- The proof is in the proving. You don’t need a proving cupboard or anything fancy like that – just somewhere reasonably warm. The colder it is the longer it will take to rise, but that won’t impact the end result!
- Combine, combine, combine. If you’re making a bread with olives, tomatoes, cheese, herbs etc., you might be struggling with keeping the little treats inside the dough. I found olives especially difficult, but if you just push them in and then fold the dough over you can sandwich them in
So there you have it, some very basic tips for bread making newbies!