I remember when Foccacia first came to the masses in Australia. And by the masses, I mean me and other non Italians who had never tasted this delicious, slightly oily but delicious bread before. I remember some confusion as to how to pronounce it. My friend called it "Fok-ar-CHI-ya". And no-one laughed because no-one else knew how to pronounce it.
One of the best kinds of breads you can eat is an Olive bread. It just cannot be beat for taste with the salty black olives giving the bread the perfect occasional flavour punch. This is great for sandwiches with the olives digging in deep into the dough and when sliced in half horizontally it gives two slices of olive dotted bread. It's also wonderful with soups or to soak up a great sauce. The recipe is an adaption of Nigella's Garlic and Parsley Hearthbreads. As a relatively new but enthusiastic baker, I cannot go past How to be a Domestic Goddess for a reliable bread recipe.
- 500 g strong white flour
- 1.5 tablespoons of instant dried yeast
- 1 heaped tablespoon salt
- 300 ml warm water
- 5 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil mixed with some dried or fresh herbs (oregano or parsley) for brushing over it
- Black olives (try and use pitted so that your guests don't choke!)-as many as you want to cover your bread, I used 150g unpitted black olives
- Salt, preferably Maldon, for sprinkling
- 1 baking sheet with small sides lined (I used a 22x31cms baking tray with 2cms sides)
Step 1 - Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a bowl. Pour warm water into a measuring jug and stir in the olive oil. Mix the liquid with the dry ingredients to make a soft but firm dough, adding more liquid as needed and either turn this out onto a surface and knead by hand or keep it in the bowl and use a mixer fitted with the dough gook and knead until smooth, supple and full of elastic. Form into a ball, oil up the bowl and turn the dough in it so it's lightly oiled all over. Cover with cling film or teatowel and leave to rise for an hour or so until doubled in size.
Step 2 - When the dough has risen, punch it down and leave it to rest for 10 minutes. Roll out into a rectangular shape using a rolling pin or your hands and push it until it reaches the edges. Cover with a teatowel, and leave to prove and get puffy for about 25 minutes. Preheat the oven to 190C/gas mark 5
Step 3 - Poke your fingers all over the bread to dimple it, then brush it with the extra oil and herb mixture all over it. Stud the bread with olives all over. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the bread is cooked - becoming golden in parts. Whip out of the oven and drizzle over a generous amount of good extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle over some salt and eat with pleasure.
Adapted from How To Be A Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson