Aromatic Mediterranean flavors meet incredible crust
My friend Miri stayed with me for a few weeks in summer and we basically spent our time cooking and experimenting with gin (tonic). As you can imagine, it was fantastic! 😉 She made a herbed bread similar to this one and it was still warm when we ate – it had this amazing crust and was – hands down – one of the best breads I’ve ever tried (so THANK YOU Miri!). So what I did is I added some dried tomatoes and olives to the bread to give it an even more mediterranean feel and it turned out to be a real treat to your taste buds. Because of the butter it gets an amazing crust and it’s very aromatic, too. I think it’s best to serve it for a nice Sunday brunch when it’s still warm, or as an appetizer with different spreads. Or just dip it in salted olive oil – I’m sure you’ll love it. Regarding spreads, I made one with soft goat cheese, fresh chopped rosemary, salt, pepper and a splash of olive oil, which took about 3 minutes to prepare and worked incredibly well. Remember that baking bread takes time as the dough needs time to prove, but trust me – this bread’s taste will more than compensate you for your effort!
500g good bread flour (all-purpose works too)
250ml warm water
2 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
100g dried tomatoes, chopped
1 handful olives, destoned, chopped
1 handful fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 handful fresh thyme, leaves picked
1 handful fresh oregano, leaves picked, coarsely chopped
coarse sea salt
1. Place the butter in a pan and froth up, reduce the heat, add the herbs and fry at a very low heat for a few minutes (make sure the butter doesn’t turn brown). Take the pan off the heat.
2. Place flour and yeast in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Then add butter with herbs, dried tomatoes, olives, salt and about half the water. Start kneading the dough while continuously adding the rest of the water. Knead until you have a silky and elastic dough.
3. Cover your mixing bowl with a kitchen towel and place in a warm, dry place to prove until the dough has doubles in size (around 30 minutes). This is a really important process because it ensures you’ll end up with a light, fluffy texture.
4. Once the dough has doubled in size, knock the air out by kneading it for another 30 seconds. Form into a dome and place in a cast iron pan. Cut a large X into the surface, coat with olive oil and sprinkle with some coarse sea salt. Cover with a lid and leave to prove for another 30 minutes in a warm place.
5. Preheat your oven to 220°C / 450°F. Bake on the center rack for about 30 minutes with the lid on. Heat a little bit of water until it boils, pour into a small over-proof dish (10cm /4in diameter is big enough) and place in the oven. Remove the lid from the cast iron pan and bake for another 15-20 minutes.
6. The bread is ready once it sounds hollow when you knock on it. Remove from the oven and leave to cool off for a bit. Serve while still warm and enjoy your incredibly tasty bread!