Here is one of my favourite home-made breads I have been making ever since I can remember. To me, it is a little more reminiscent to what traditional olive bread should look and taste like.
I have many fond memories of living in a small village in Greece during some of my childhood years, some of these memories involved our family weekend lunches. My sole job at this early time, was to go to the little corner bakery and buy the freshly made bread still warm – out of their ovens. Maybe it was that fresh, unprocessed rustic bread that I had to hold all the way home where I came to realise what good quality bread should feel, smell and taste like.
This beautiful rustic bread has a wonderful texture, depth of flavour and tastes and smells glorious.
In greek mythology Spelt (Ζεια in Greek ) was highly prized, it was renowned to have been a gift to the greeks from the goddess Demeter and has has been recorded for its first use in Europe and areas of the black-sea.
Olive bread has its origins from Greece and the mediterranean, and therefore spelt or a very similar grain would more accurately have been used in making olive bread.
I am sceptical always, when I see olive bread made with highly processed white flour. Spelt flour has a nutty slightly sweet flour, it is much easier to work with than say wholemeal flour and goes well with the equally very greek kalamata olives and garlic.
It lost its popularity during the turn of the century, but has re-gained popularity due to its strong nutritional profile.
Its other benefit is it is soft and requires less kneading than regular flour, is an excellent source of protein, dietary fibre, B vitamins and numerous minerals.
Treasure this recipe, as once you become accustomed to making it, it will frequent your kitchen table.
You could substitute with wholemeal flour, but will require much more effort to work with ( more kneading ) will be more dense and you will loose that nutty, sweet taste.
I have always used Kalamata olives for this bread, as their distinct flavour works well with the Spanish onions and garlic.
2 cups Wholemeal Spelt Flour
1 cup White Spelt Flour
1 packet, 7 grams dried yeast.
1 3/4 cup warm water*
1 tspn honey/sugar
1 tspn salt
1/4 cup fresh flat leafed parsley – finely chopped
2-4 finely chopped sage leaves
3 tbspns extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Kalamata olive, cut in half lengthwise
1 garlic clove chopped
1 small Spanish onion, finely chopped
The temperature of the water should be so that it is warm, but not too hot so that you cant hold your finger comfortably in the water. The time of year your baking also plays a role. If your baking during the middle of a European winter, then your flour etc may be cold. So your 1 cup of water should be slightly warmer than normal ( approximately 50 degrees Celsius). If its summer, like it is here in Australia at the moment, I found 40-45 degrees sufficed. When mixing the water and yeast together with the 1/2 cup of water, ensure it is no more than forty. The remainder of your water should be warmer as advised above.
Mix 1/2 cup of warm water ( above 30 but less than 42 degrees ) with the yeast, sugar and 1 tbspns of flour. Allow to rest somewhere warm for 10 minutes.
2. Place the onion, garlic, sage leaves and olive oil in a pan and cook through. Allow to cool to room temperature.
3. Sift the flour and salt, place in a food processor with the bread paddle on.
4. Mix through briefly the entire contents of the pan with the cooked onion and garlic mix.
5. Add the yeast and pulse so as to mix the flour into yeast slightly. Add the remainder of the water and also pulse. Don’t have your food processor on high.
6. The flour, will begin to form a ball. I like my dough, at this stage slightly sticky as this allows for me to add a little more flour during the process I am shaping the bread.
7. Add the Kalamata olives last, and pulse until mixed into the dough. Not too long.
8. Place dough into a bowl, cover and allow to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes ( fast rise yeast ) or 45 minutes standard yeast.
9. After thirty minutes your dough should have doubled in size.
10. Place a large sheet of baking paper on your workbench and dust a little flour. Place the dough on top and shape as required. In this instance, it was shaped a little like a foccacia then added a thick layer of parsley and finally rolled into a loaf shape. Add some extra olives on top.
11. Cover with greaseproof paper. Allow to rise for 1 hour in a cool dark place.
12. Pre-heat oven at 180 degrees.
13. Place bread in oven and reduce temperature whilst baking to 170 degree Celsius for 40 minutes.
14. Allow to rest before cutting.