Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Try try again...

I have to tell you something…there is nothing more satisfying than baking bread.

The mixing of the ingredients...playing with the sticky dough as you knead...the anticipation as it rises...and the smell of it baking permeating through every crevice of your home...if it comes out successfully there truly is nothing more satisfying.

I’ve always been terrified of baking bread…although the last time I attempted it was about 14 years ago and my cooking skills were nonexistent…but that episode was enough to scar me and I’ve been hesitant to try again. At the time I didn’t understand yeast and why it needs time to work the bread. I just figured the recipe was a bit fussy and that I would just cut some corners and it would turn out ok.

As you can guess it didn’t…and since then I have labeled myself as a “person who just can’t bake bread” …till yesterday when I woke up early on a holiday morning and decided that I would conquer my fears. I had all the ingredients on hand and all the time in the world to let that bread rise…I even challenged myself and skipped past the simple bread recipes and jumped right to an Olive Basil Bread.

And as you can see from my pictures my initial label was wrong and I was so excited when the bread came out beautiful…crusty on the outside…chewy and flavorful on the inside. Dipped in olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper and it’s a beautiful pairing!

Olive Basil Bread

4 1/4 cups flour
2 cups lukewarm water
3 teaspoons dried active yeast
1/4 cup finest olive oil
1 cup chopped black olives
1 teaspoon dried Basil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

- Place a 1/4 cup of warm water in a bowl. Mix in sugar and sprinkle yeast on top. Set aside to ferment and bubble for about 5 minutes.

- Put flour into a large bowl with salt and Basil. Mix well. Add yeast mixture and 1 1/2 cup of water. Begin mixing with a wooden spoon. Add olive oil and mix.

- Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, then add olives and knead the olives into the dough.

- Place dough in a bowl with a little olive oil, cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled (about 1 1/2 hours).

- Put bread on baking sheet without kneading, tug sides under repeatedly. Cover again with damp cloth and let rise until doubled (an hour).

- Ten minutes before end of rising period, preheat oven to 225 degrees. Flour surface lightly, then bake for 20 minutes. Decrease temperature to 180 and bake for another 20 minutes. Test whether bread sounds hollow when you knock on the bottom--bake for 5 more minutes.

- Place bread on a rack and cool till room temperature.

- Slice it up and enjoy with olive oil or butter...or use it to mop up any savoury sauce after a great meal!


Lorraine E said...

That looks fabulous Alexandra! Olive bread is one of my favourite types of bread :) Well done!

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

Well done!! I hope to conquer my fears, like you, one day. :-)

Anonymous said...

Happy Halloween!!!

and the bread looks absolutely yummy! sooo can i expect freshly baked bread for bfast the nx time i stay over? hehehe... =)

Shareena said...

Lovely! It's good to see you posting again :)

I'm back in KL now again, let's try to meet up one day?

Shala said...

Yummy! I told you you could make bread!!! Isn't it great? It's my favorite thing to do in the kitchen, I love doughs :-)

I will definitely be trying this recipe.