Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Food: Olive and Onion Bread

There was a time in the not-too-distant past that I, Maven Mama, was terrified of baking. I admit, this phobia was precipitated by a series of early baking debacles (a legendarily bad birthday cake for my father springs to mind), but after several years of general cooking success, coupled with envy over the fluffy muffins and chewy cookies from other kitchens, I decided it was time to try my hand at the baking arts once again. To me, the most terrifying of the practical baked goods was bread. That's where I began, and a year later, I finally feel pretty good about my success - enough so that I now lust after a brick oven.
Yesterday afternoon, I was a little bored, so I strapped the baby on, and 'we' started some bread: 2 Cups of Whole Wheat Flour (this time I substituted 1/2 Cup of white flour), Yeast pac whisked into water with sugar, and a little salt and oil -- this base can be made into basically any kind of bread you're in the mood for, but I had been drooling over Colson Patisserie's website, and noticed some of their sandwiches are served on fresh olive bread. "Mmmm, olive bread...", and I set to poking around the fridge for ingredients. Here's the recipe I came up with - it's a little loose, as I didn't take notes (I didn't realize how delicious and blog-worthy the bread would be!)

Olive & Onion Bread

1 Package Active Yeast
2 Tblsp Sugar
1 Cup 110 degree Water
1 1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour (again, I prefer King Arthur Brand)
1/2 Cup White Flour
2 Tsp. Salt
2 Tsp. Dried Thyme
About 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
7 - 12 Kalamata (or similar) Olives, the flesh sliced from the pits and roughly chopped
1/4 Large Red Onion, Chopped
1/3 Cup Crumbled Feta

In a small bowl, Whisk the sugar into the hot water, when it is disolved, add the yeast and whisk until mixed. Set aside for about five minutes. In a large bowl, mix together Flours, Salt, Thyme, add Olives, Onion, and Feta. Using a rubber spatula, add yeast mixture, and mix, add Olive Oil slowly, a little at a time, and mix. You've used enough when the dough can be formed into a ball. Depending on conditions, you may need extra olive oil.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, reincorporating the pieces of olive and onion that escape as you go.
Coat the bowl with olive oil, return the dough the the bowl, and turn to coat. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and place in a warm place for an hour. After the hour, punch dough down once, return to bowl and allow to rise for about 30 more minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a pan, and shape dough minimally into an oblong loaf. Bake for 30 - 45 minutes, until golden-brown. Serve the same day for best taste and texture.

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