I don’t bake very much any more, but when I do I like to try and experiment. This is one such experiment.
This was what I made when I was trying out using fillings in my bread for the first time. And I couldn’t make it easy and have just one experiment. Oh, no. When I made this, I was also experimenting with a slow prove, because James from the Bake Off kept banging on about it. Turns out, he’s right — the bready flavour of this bread was much more intense. I’m a big fan!
I made one enormous loaf, but if you split the dough in half before the final prove you can just as easily make two smaller ones.
To make one large or two medium loaves, you will need:
- 675g of strong white bread flour
- 1.5 teaspoons of sea salt
- A 7g sachet of dried yeast
- 425ml of lukewarm water
- 80g of roughly chopped olives
- 3 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh thyme (double if you’d like a more intense thyme taste)
- In a large bowl, mix the flour with the salt and the yeast. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the water. Combine, either with your hand or a dough hook on the lowest possible speed.
- Knead for ten minutes by hand or five minutes with a dough hook.
- Soak a tea towel and wring it out. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover with the towel, then leave to rise in a cold place for three hours.
- Punch the dough to knock the air out and make it into a rectangle about 1cm thick. Evenly spread the olives and thyme leaves over the dough. Fold the left third over the middle third, and the right third over the middle two. Shape into a large ball, or two small ovals.
- Put the loaf/loaves on a large and heavy baking tray. Put the tray in a large plastic bag, inflating the bag so it doesn’t touch the dough. Let rise for another hour.
- Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 230C
- Slash the top of the dough a few times with a very sharp knife and sprinkle with flour. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 200C and bake for 20 minutes more
- Leave to cool (if you can!). Tastes best with a good slick of salted butter.