My first time baking bread: soft and fluffy olive bun

Having never baked bread before, it seemed like a good idea to take on a simple recipe. The idea of baking bread is daunting, yet there is nothing more satisfying than the smell of fresh bread baking as it fills your home.

Growing up on a farm, my mother used to always bake bread, but I’ve never been a fan of home-made bread, which tends to be quite heavy and dense.

I read an article about, Psomi,  a simple Greek bread recipe using olive oil, flour, yeast, sugar and water. By adjusting the recipe slightly and adding some olives to the mix, the end product was a wonderfully soft loaf full of flavour.

Although it takes a few hours to make, this is mostly due to waiting for the bread to rise. The baking itself only takes about 45 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet of active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of salt (I will reduce this to a ½ when adding olives)
  • 30 ml of good quality olive oil and extra for oiling the loaf
  • ½ cup of quality olives (make sure they’re not too salty!)

Method

Mix the yeast with ¼ cup of flour, sugar and water and whisk. Leave the yeast mixture until it starts to foam. (For a more yeasty bread, you can leave the mixture for an hour or two.)

Sift the rest of the flour and salt. Add the olives and start adding it to the oil and yeast mixture until a dough starts forming. Knead the dough on a floured surface, adding flour if necessary to form a smooth dough. Knead for about 5 minutes and cover in olive oil, leaving it in a warm place to rest.

When the dough had doubled in size, about 2 hours, pat it down and knead again for about 2 minutes. Form the dough in a round shape and cover it in oil again. Spray a pan with non-stick cooking spray or oil and leave the loaf to rest until it doubles in size again.

When the dough has doubled in size again, about an hour, it’s ready to bake! Brush the loaf with water and bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes.  Take the loaf out and brush with water again. Put it back for another 15 minutes until the bread is golden brown. You’ll know when it’s ready if it makes a hollow sound when knocked.

The end result is a crusty, but beautifully soft and fluffy loaf, interspersed with olives.

Enjoy with a hearty soup or with olive oil and dukkah.

NOTE: I didn’t taste the olives I used in the recipe and the bread ended up being too salty. I would suggest tasting them beforehand to stop this from happening!

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