MillbraeMakes Olive & Pesto Bread
700g bread flour*
300g wholegrain flour**
600ml tepid water – you may need up to 700ml
1tbsp. dried yeast
2tbsp. olive oil
3 doz Kalamata Olives – well drained and patted dry.
½ cup Basil & Pinenut Pesto
2tbsp. parmesan – finely grated
*I love to use our local Cummins Milling Bread Flour.
**I have my own domestic mill and grind my own wholegrain (wholemeal) flour. We produce thousands of tonnes of wheat every year on our farms, so I’m a bit lucky to be able to make my own flour.
Mix flours together. In a separate bowl put 1 heaped tbsp. of combined flours and dried yeast, pour in 100ml of tepid water and stir until well combined. Cover with cling wrap and pop it somewhere warm for 10 – 15 minutes until it’s full of bubbly goodness.
While this is going on, prepare your tins. I use tins sized L28xW12xD11cm. Spray liberally with olive oil and then give it another squirt, just for good measure.
If you are going for free form loaves, just have your baking paper and a couple of boards at ready.
In the bowl with the combined flours, add the salt and olive oil and the contents of bowl of bubbly goodness. Give it as good a mix as you can until it is pretty much combined, this is where you may need to add a bit more water. Turn out onto your floured bench and knead, knead, knead for a good 7 – 10 minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic and all the icky-sticky mess has been tamed. If you go a bit overboard with the extra water, you may need to dust with some extra flour a time or two – the wetter the dough the better tho, so hang in there and knead a bit longer before you add flour.
Cut the dough in half. Put one half to the side for a mo. Cut one half into 3 fairly equal sized portions. Roll them into long fat sausages, about an inch in diameter, then flatten the 3 sausages to about ¼ inch with your fingers, on a well-floured surface.
Down the centre of each flattened sausage, place 6 olives evenly spaced, leaving about an inch at each end free. Between each olive put a teaspoon or so of Pesto.
Pinch the sides of each sausage together, sealing well. Roll (soft touch required here), them back into sausage shapes. Carefully plait the 3 sausages together and super-duper carefully place the finished plait into your prepared tin.
If you are free-forming it, plait your 3 sausages directly on top of some baking paper on a board, saves the whole transferring caper.
Spray the top of your loaf with plenty of olive oil and cover the tin/loaf loosely with tented cling wrap.
Do it all over again with the 2nd half of your dough. Pop both loaves somewhere warm – window sill, your car – parked in the sun… wherever works for you.
Give them a good half an hour of proving, then have a look-see, it could take up to an hour.
If at this stage they have risen quite a bit (not quite double), it’s time to pre-heat your oven to 210C – if going with free-form loaves, put your pizza stones in now and pre-heat with the oven, you will get a much better crust this way. When the oven is up to temperature, remove cling wrap and sprinkle tops of loaves liberally with parmesan, now bung tins in the oven – or trim excess baking paper and transfer loaves to hot stones and bung in the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce temp to 180C (I like to open the oven door now to reduce the temp quickly) and bake for a further 10-15 minutes.
Turn bread out onto a wire rack. Give the bottoms a bit of a knock – if they sound really hollow all is well and the bread is done. If they sound quite dull, pop them back in the oven upside down for another 5 minutes. Check for done-ness before removing, decide if cooked or not, then proceed to give them another 5 minutes, or turn off the oven.
Put on the kettle and make yourself a well-earned cup of tea. Enjoy said cup of tea while you wait for the bread to cool enough to devour dunked in plenty of good olive oil.
Cheers – Carmen