Tuesday 4 August 2015

Olive Bread, with Onion filling

One from Ursula Ferrigno - a writer about whom I haven't yet come to a firm opinion. Her writing is on occasion tiresomely mannered (which I suppose is another way of saying 'silly'), but the recipes appear to be more-or-less sound...stuffed squid with potatoes was a little bland, but with some amendments to the stuffing (like adding some ingredients which actually have some flavour, like reconstituted porcini, or pancetta, or anchovies....rather than the deeply unremarkable combination of parsley and breadcrumbs which she proposed) the dish works well; her version of potato ravioli is good; and the combination for an aperitif of limoncello and chilled prosecco, with a couple of mint leaves in the bottom of the glass, is a complete winner!

This bread is easy to make and freezes well - although I think it is marginally better if eaten fresh - and the onon stuffing, I realised after having made it a couple of times, is nothing more nor less than a standard chutney... which is useful, since I have just inherited a large number of jars of the stuff, and it is not something which is normally served in this household.

Served recently in conjunction with chilled pea soup as the first course for a garden lunch, on a sweltering summer's day, this particular recipe was absolutely perfect...

For two loaves, each serving four.

Bread: 15g yeast; 275 ml tepid water; pinch sugar; 500g flour (for this, in Italy, I use 'Manitoba'; any high gliuten flour will work well); 5g salt; 2 tbs olive oil; 70g stoned black olives, sliced thinly.
Filling: 2 bs olive oil; 2 large onions, finely chopped; 2 bay leaves; 1 large sprig rosemary; 2 tbs red wine vinegar; 50g soft brown sugar.


1. Make the onion filling:  stirring constantly, sauté the chopped onion in oil, along with finely chopped rosemary and crumbled bay leaf, for five minutes or so until thoroughly browned; deglaze with the vinegar, then add the sugar, stir to incorporate, and cook over low heat for thirty minutes or so. The mixture should be dark brown and quite dense by the end of this process.

2. Crumble the yeast into the water and leave for five minutes or so, to prove. Add the pinch of sugar to the water to encourage the yeast to get to work.

3. In a large bowl, mix the salt with the flour; add to this the Olive Oil and the yeast/water mixture. Knead for 10 minutes, until smooth, and then add the olives, and continue kneading until thoroughly incorporated.

4. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and leave to rest in a warm place for 40 minutes.

5. Knock back the dough, divide into two and shape each into a round ball; cover, once more, and leave to rise again for a further ten minutes.

6. On a floured surface, roll each ball into an oval shape about 15" x 12". Divide the onion filling betweeen these two, putting the mixture in the centre of the half of each oval nearest to you, leaving enough exposed edge for the bread oval to be folded over and sealed.  Once sealed, put the semi-oval breads onto a greased baking tray, cover them again with a damp cloth, and leave to rise for a further 40 minutes.

6. Pre-heat the bread oven to 200 degrees C; brush the bread with olive oil, and sprinkle with a small amount of finely chopped rosemary. Bake for 25 minutes.