I got quite excited this week, because I booked myself a holiday to Tuscany in spring. One week of being on a working farm in an old country estate in the rolling hills of Tuscany just outside of Florence. Doesn’t sound too bad, does it? I have never been to Tuscany and I am very excited to go to sample the local olives, the oil and maybe a glass or two of their wine. In anticipation of the trip I whipped up this lovely hearty olive and rosemary bread. Nothing says “Tuscany” to me quite as much as this lovely herb and some flavourful olives. Now Italians would probably only use white flour for the bread, I decided to make it a bit healthier by using mainly wholemeal flour.
Here is what you need for your taste of Tuscany:
350 g stoneground wholemeal flour
150 g plain flour
1 teaspoon dry active yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 stalks fresh rosemary, only the needles, chopped (or about 2 tablespoons of dried rosemary)
10+3 black kalamata olives
2 tablespoons olive oil
300 ml lukewarm water
In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flours, yeast, sugar, salt and rosemary) and mix them. Add the olive oil and lukewarm water (water too hot will “kill” the yeast, so make sure it is not hot, just warm) and knead into a dough. If it should be too sticky, add a bit more flour, if it is too dry, add a bit more water. Remember that bread doughs are very (k)needy, so pop your dough on your counter (put some flour on it first so it won’t stick) and give your arms a good work-out. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes until it is a uniform mass with a bit of a spring. Then roll it into a ball and put it back into the bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and let the dough prove somewhere warm like near a radiator for at least one hour.
After the first prove (the dough should have risen to about double its former size), prepare your counter again with some flour and give your dough another knead. This time add about 10 chopped olives to the dough. They will add a little more liquid, so have more flour to hand to add while kneading. Knead until the olives are about evenly distributed. Prepare a loaf pan and pop your dough into it. I added 3 more olives (cut in halves) on the top of the bread to make it look nicer. Let the covered dough prove again for at least 30 minutes.
After the second prove, preheat your oven to 200 °C (gas mark 6). Put your bread into the oven for about 50 minutes. The top of the bread will take on some colour, just make sure it does not burn. The bread is done when a knock on the bottom of the bread sounds hollow. Take the bread then out of the loaf tin and let it cool on a wire rack. Then cut, put some margarine on it and enjoy with a glass of red wine and some hearty vegetable soup.