“Birthday Bread” with fresh oregano e black olives for an impromptu lunch date with friends

Despite rising temperatures here in Italy I braved the heat and my oven to make bread and focaccia for a Sunday lunch amongst friends, one of which is self-confessed bread lover Lisa, whose birthday it just so happens to be today so “Happy Birthday” and another of which, Krijn, who celebrated his birthday on Sunday itself, and last but by no means least Alessia.

Early last year I organised, and as a result participated, in a bread-making course with Edoardo Ruggiero, Owner, Chef and Baker at La Brioschina in Milan. His recipes have remained my source of inspiration and and after a year of regular bread making I now feel confident at playing around with his recipes and adding in new flavours. With an oregano bush which is fast growing out of control I opted for a wholemeal bread with oregano and black olives, accompanied by a focaccia with sage, both served with some fresh tomatoes and home-made pesto for a DIY bruschetta to kick off lunch.

My earlier attempts at wholemeal bread have resulted in a dry and unspectacular loaf but this sunday with the addition of some extra water a change of flour and no doubt some luck it came out pretty ok! At first glance it almost looked like a giant scone but once we broke into it it had all the characteristics of good bread; a rustically crunchy exterior with a soft interior and the promise of a olives scattered throughout. The oregano lent a subtle flavour without overpowering the bread so I’d definitely use it again to give a hint of taste versus rosemary and sage which are much more robust flavours, good for focaccia, but for me too strong for bread.

Wholemeal bread with fresh oregano and chopped black olives

Ingredients: 175g Wholemeal flour, 175g of Manitoba flour or flour for rustic bread (I used the latter), 25g cube fresh yeast, 250g – 270g water, 10g salt, 3g soft brown sugar, 3-4 sprigs of oregano, 15 black olives (Chopped)

Preparation: 20 mins + 2 hours lievitation and 25 mins cooking

  1. In a large mixing bowl, weigh out the flour and sugar. Add in the chopped oregano leaves and olives.
  2. In a seperate jug weigh out 250g water and stir in the yeast until fully dissolved. Extra water can be added later as needed.
  3. Stir the water-yeast mix into the flour, stirring continuously until well combined and lastly add in the salt. (The salt can restrict the yeast so I always add it last).
  4. Now take over with your hands. If your mixture still looks or feels too dry add in a little extra water and mould until you have one big ball of dough. (Differences between flours can mean that extra water is needed).
  5. Once combined turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead for 5 minutes. Whilst kneading, flour your hands rather than adding too much to the board so as to avoid drying your dough out too much. (if using dried yeast sachet you may need to knead for longer to activate the yeast).
  6. Once nicely smooth, place on a baking tray and cover with clingfilm or a tea towel and leave to rise for c. 2 hours in a warm place.
  7. Bake in the centre of a hot oven at 240C for 5 mins and then at 210C for a further 20 mins.
  8. Serve warm and enjoy with friends!

2 Responses to ““Birthday Bread” with fresh oregano e black olives for an impromptu lunch date with friends”
  1. Karen says:

    I think the combination of oregano and olives is a nice choice for your bread. Crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside is perfect.

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