I think I have mentioned before that I make the majority of my own bread but I have only blogged a few types. The reason being that the majority of the time I bake a basic wholemeal loaf which I mix in my bread machine, shape and then bake in the oven. Nothing too fancy or worth blogging. I occasionally top the loaf with some seeds for added texture but that’s about as interesting as it get a lot of the time.
The last few weeks time hasn’t been on my side and as such we have resorted to buying a loaf with our weekly supermarket shop. So when I had two days off this week and wanted to spend some time in the kitchen I decided to find a recipe for bread that was just a little bit special as a treat (not only a treat eating wise but baking wise for me). So I started flicking through Andrew Whitley’s Bread matters. Lots of the recipes took my fancy but I finally settled on his olive and pumpkin seed bread. I was a little nervous about his 16-48 hour fermentation stage as I have tried to make sourdough before Christmas (from one of Jamie Oliver’s books) and also a ciabatta (can’t remember the name of the bread book) and failed miserably both times. The results were always wet, runny doughs that didn’t support their shape. I decided to give it a go anyway, ignoring the look of horror on my boyfriend’s face (he was imagining the mess in the kitchen from previous times!).
So my bread started life on Monday evening (quickly mixed up after finding the recipe and discovering how long I needed to leave it and just before 24 came on TV). The sponge was simple to make and was covered and put in our back bedroom (the warmest room in the house) for 16-48 hours. I left it alone on Tuesday, the smell alone was enough to reassure me something was going on! Then on Wednesday I used the sponge to make the basic dough and then added the flavourings before baking.
So was it worth the effort? yes, the bread is very tasty (so long as you like olives!) in its own right (sandwich fillings would need to be kept simple) and has a really nice texture. I really enjoyed shaping the bread (the swiss roll style filling and shaping – see below) and enjoyed the whole baking experience. I will definitely be trying more recipes from his book (sun-dried tomato and red onion bread with tamari-roasted sunflower seeds sounds fantastic) but he has yet to convert me to baking bread in his slow fashion all the time. I can see that I could fit this into my bread baking e.g. make the sponge on a Friday night and bake the bread on a Sunday but there is just something convenient (well in bread terms anyway) about being able to bake bread in 3-4 hours.
Is the book worth reading? Absolutely. I have outlined the basic recipe below but in the book Andrew explains how to refresh the sponge and turn it in to a leaven. He also explains about the temperature of the dough being important and how to get it right (I don’t have a thermometer yet so just used ‘warm’ water and it worked out fine). There are plenty of recipes to keep you going and lots to read about the whole baking process.
I will of course be entering this in to Yeastspotting.
- Dissolve the yeast in the water.
- Add to the flours in a large bowl (sponge may expand to up to 3 times its volume).
- Mix to form a soft sponge (no need for vigorous kneading).
- leave at room temperature to ferment for 16-48 hours. The sponge should rise and collapse in this time.
The final dough
225g Sponge from above
150g strong white flour
75g stonegroune wholemeal flour
4g sea salt
15g olive oil
105g water (fairly warm if the final dough is quiet cool)
- Mix all ingredients together.
- Knead until the dough is stretchy and silky
- Cover and allow to rise for 1 hour
Olive and pumpkin seed bread
Makes 2 small loaves
30g pumpkin seeds
20g olive oil
Basic bread dough from above
100g black olive paste (can be made by blending olives in a food processor with a little olive oil, drained first if they have been stored in brine)
12 black or green olives
Olive oil for brushing
- Work the olive oil and pumpkin seeds into the dough.
- Divide the dough in half.
- Dust the work surface with a little flour
- Roll or stretch each piece into an oblong around 20x15cm.
- Spread the black olive paste over almost all the surface of each piece.
- Roll up like a swiss roll.
- Fold the ends under the loaf so they meet in the middle, reducing the length by half.
- Firmly push olives into each loaf so they disappear in to the loaf.
- Place on a baking tray and brush with olive oil.
- Cover and leave to prove (around 20 minutes).
- Bake in a moderate oven (190C) for 20-25 minutes until golden.