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Homemade bread with olives and oregano

About a year ago we bought a small home bread maker and from that day I’ve started to play with it, or more precisely it started playing with me! The first attempt was not so bad; the next hundred ones were hardly edible, with few clear disasters in the middle. For 2 months I tried and analyzed, took notes and read forums. We stopped buying bread when I finally found this (The Recipe!)This bread never disappointed us, and seems Sergey will never get bored with it… Homemade bread with olives and oregano

After I got confident enough in I began using linseed oil (flax seed oil) instead of sunflower oil. Although it has a stronger flavor, it’s healthier then more oils. I use olives, oregano and sun-dried tomatoes in the mix and they cover linseed’s oil flavor completely, so the flavor and taste are still great.

Makes: 750g bread loaf, or 12 bread rolls

Preparation & baking time: 2 hours 45 minutes

Ingredients:

2 tsp linseed (flax seed) oil
290ml lukewarm milk (I use low fat milk),
1,5 tsp. salt
2 tsp sugar (or brown sugar)
255g strong flour (baker’s flour, bread flour)
120g whole meal flour
120g rye flour
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried active yeast (or 9g fresh yeast)

30g (big handful) sunflower seeds (peeled, of course)
50g sun-dried tomatoes, drained from the olive oil and cut in small pieces
50g olives, pitted – I usually use dried Greek olive called Stafidata, but I guess any kind will do

Method:

If you are going to use dry yeast (in small granules, but not instant yeast), you should know that it requires to be activated before adding it to the other ingredients. It has to be dissolved in some warm water or milk. Be sure to choose temperature near 37 C. You can use the same check they use for the babies milk – it should feel warm on the inner part of the wrist. As sugar gives more power to the yeast, you can add it at this point. The mix should be bubbly in few minutes.

Fresh baker’s yeast only needs to be crumbled in small pieces, in order to dissolve easily in the mix.
Using these two types of yeast requires two rises.

For kneading the dough I use the bread maker, adding the ingredients in the same order they are listed above. It’s important to use them at room temperature, and of course, measure them precisely. Also, the whole amount of flour must be sifted – don’t skip this step!

You can prepare the dough with the help of a food processor as well, bringing all ingredients together and kneading with dough hook on low speed for about 4-5 minutes.

Of course, you can make a bread loaf even by hand. In that case sift the flours together with the salt in a bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the yeast-sugar-milk mix, together with the oil and oregano.  Blend all together, and knead for 5 to 10 minutes.

At the end of the kneading process the dough under your hands must feel smooth and stretchy.

Form the dough in a ball shape and oil it all over. Put it in a clean bowl, covered with cling foil. It should rise and double in volume. This process can be speeded up, by putting the dough in a warm place, but the longer you leave it to rise naturally at room temperature, the better the bread will be. You can leave it over night or put it in the oven on lowest possible temperature (60 C in my case), and it will rise for about an hour.

When the dough is double the initial volume, pinch it to knock out the air. Knead for few minutes, incorporating the seeds, olives and tomatoes. Shape into a large circle and put on an oiled baking sheet or in a loaf tin, covered with the clink foil.  Prove (let it rise for second time) for 30 to 45 minutes. Don’t leave it for longer this time, because over-proving may cause the bread to collapse during the baking.

When the dough doubled the volume again, bake it on the middle shelf of a pre-heated oven (220C /fan200C/gas 7/ 430 F) for 25 to 30 minutes. If you prefer a loaf shape, you should bake bit longer (35-40 minutes).

You can test if it’s ready by tapping the base of the loaf – it should sound hollow. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy!

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