This is more or less the same basic bread maker recipe that I use for most breads, just with the additional of olive oil instead of sunflower oil.
Very simple to make, but it always looks very impressive and it also makes a lovely gift when visiting friends, especially at summer Bar-B-Q’s or picnics.
When adding a sprinkling of salt before cooking, this must be a coarse rock or sea salt, not table salt. I always use Maldon Sea Salt, but there are many good quality sea salts now on the market. It may seem expensive compared to ordinary table salt but it goes an awfully long way as it requires such a small amount to impart it’s lovely salty flavour.
You can use more or less any fresh herbs, I am lucky where I live to have very sandy soil and a relatively low rainfall for England, allowing me to grow a wide variety of herbs in my garden.
Thyme, oregano and basil works well. On this particular occasion my thyme was looking a bit ragged so I used some small sage leaves and rosemary, one of my favourite herbs for many reasons, not least of which is the fragrance.
Obviously the olives are optional if they are not your favourite things!
- 500gm strong white bread flour
- 320gm water
- 30ml olive oil
- 1½ teaspoons of salt
- 1½ teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons quick action yeast
- For the topping
- Good quality olive oil
- ½ red onion
- A handful of black olives
- Leaves from 2-3 springs of rosemary
- A handful of small sage leaves
- Coarse sea salt
- Polenta (cornmeal) for the baking tray
- Put the bread ingredients into the bread maker according to your manufacturers instructions (in my Panasonic the liquid ingredients go in first then the dry on top.)
- Set to the dough setting. (Mine takes 45 mins)
- Grease a solid baking sheet (I use lard) and sprinkle over a thin layer of polenta.
- When the bread cycle has finished turn the dough out on to a floured surface and knead for a couple of minutes, then stretch out the dough to a long rectangle and lift onto the prepared tray. Don't worry if this is not exact as you can stretch out the dough on when it is on the tray to get a neater shape. I use the sides of my fists to sort of punch it into position.
- Cover with a piece of lightly oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for about 40 mins.
- Remove the cling film and using your finger tips, knuckles or the end of a wooden spoon, whichever feels most comfortable for you, make indentations all over the bread.
- Cover again and leave for another 20 mins.
- Turn on the oven to your bread setting or 220c.
- Whilst waiting thinly slice the red onion and prepare the herbs.
- When ready, sprinkle the dough with the onion, olives, herbs, a few pinches of sea salt and drizzle over some olive oil. You can be quite generous with this, I like to see little puddles of it in the dents.
- Cook in the hot oven for 25 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove and leave to cool on a rack. I like to drizzle over a more little oil when it comes out of the oven as well but this is optional.