I am home again after a wonderful trip to La Finca del Castillo Arabe near Granada, Spain. La Finca is an award winning boutique hotel owned by my friends Scarlett and Chris Farrow. This post is the first of a brand new series, Cooking with Friends, where I plan to visit several of my pals in their kitchens and cook up some of their best whole food plant based dishes. There is nothing more fun than bouncing culinary ideas around while measuring, chopping, cooking and best of all tasting new twists on old favourites.
Scarlett and I have know each other since we were eleven. Whilst working in her fabulous state of the art kitchen at La Finca we reminisced about our time spent together as teenagers in my mother’s kitchen baking and experimenting with British and Danish recipes. In our early 20s we lost touch and then found each other 5 years ago through FaceBook (where else!). As soon as we chatted, after more than 40 years, the years melted away and we were exchanging ideas and nourishing our creative juices as if it were yesterday.
On this visit, I arrived at La Finca in a sweltering heat however that did not deter Scarlett and I from creating sumptuous plant based recipes from the glorious fresh organic produce that Chris brought to the kitchen each morning.
The rustic bread studded with olives is the foundational recipe in this group of posts from La Finca as it can be eaten with many of the dishes we created. I will add more delicious Mediterranean style recipes to the blog over the next weeks. If you have not already signed up to receive the Joy of Yum newsletter pop over here and sign up to be sure you don’t miss out. The rustic olive bread makes the perfect accompaniment to Peppers & Tomatoes a La Finca when hunks of the bread are used to soak up the gorgeous juices. Toast slices of the olive bread for open sandwiches or bruschetta topped with a warm leek salad, hummus or baba ganoush. In the winter, warm the bread in the oven and serve alongside a hearty lentil soup.
Scarlett and I made this bread on a warm day at La Finca de La Castillo Arabe as part of the Cooking with Friends series. You can imagine that in the warmth of a Spanish summer morning the bread rose with no trouble at all. The aroma of the bread baking filled the house, spiking our appetites. We served the freshly baked rustic olive bread, cut into wedges, alongside tomatoes, baba ganoush, leek salad and crisp greens, for lunch on the terrace. Then we flopped onto our beds for the much needed siesta! I shall miss siesta time and my friends.
Total Time: 2 hours
Yield: 1 loaf
Oven temperature: 220°C, 420°F
1¼ teaspoons dried yeast
275 grams, 10oz strong wholemeal flour
275 grams, 10oz strong white flour
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
340 ml, scant 12 fl oz warm water
300 gram jar or can pitted black olives – halved
What to do
1. Drain the olives and reserve the liquid. Cut the olives in half.
2. Add warm water to the reserved olive liquid until there is 320 ml in total.
3. Place everything except the olives into the bowl of a mixer using the dough hook or if you prefer knead the dough by hand on a clean work surface.
4. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes. Or until the dough springs back when pressed gently with a finger.
5. Add the olives to the dough. (If you have used a mixer to knead the dough you will need to tip it onto a clean surface.) Work the olives into the dough until they are incorporated. Don’t worry if the olives look a little clumped together, once the dough has risen and is kneaded one more time they will be more evenly distributed.
6. Oil a large bowl and place the dough in the bottom of the bowl then cover with cling film and leave in a warm place until doubled in size. Approximately 1 hour.
7. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and “knock back”, which means to knead it gently a few seconds.
8. Shape into a round or oval loaf. Cover loosely with cling film and leave to rise again for 20 to 30 minutes. After 15 minute turn the oven on to 220°C, 420°F.
9. Bake the rustic olive bread for about 20 minutes. When done the bread will sound hollow when tapped on its bottom! If it sounds like a brick ,pop it back in the oven for a few more minutes and then do the tap test again.
10. Leave to cool a little before slicing.