Monday, September 13, 2010

Rosemary and black olive soda bread

As one of our wedding presents, we were lucky enough to receive a bread maker. I was absolutely thrilled. Successful bread baking is an art that has long eluded me and despite people waxing lyrical about the stress-reducing powers of kneading bread, I just can't get enthusiastic about it. I love the idea of it all but when it comes to the process, I just find myself if a sticky mess. I'm usually left feeling rather disappointed with an equally disappointing (and frankly indigestible) loaf in my hand.

Fellow bloggers may well feel I'm letting the side down and that I should persevere. But I'm afraid that now I have my lovely bread machine, it may take me a while to get back in the bread-making saddle. There are many other people making wonderful bread so I shall leave it to them for now.

I have, however, had more success with soda bread which is far easier to make. I love the slightly different texture and find it goes brilliantly with hearty autumn soups or toasted and spread with a really good marmalade.

I discovered this particular recipe in a Weight Watchers cookbook. Don't let that put you off - it works brilliantly and tastes fantastic. Today it is chilly, damp and distinctly autumnal and a wedge of this bread went very nicely with a bowl of butternut squash soup.

Rosemary and olive soda bread
Makes 6 wedges

200g self raising flour
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
30g pitted black olives
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary plus a few small sprigs to decorate
100g low fat natural yoghurt

1. Preheat the oven to 200C.

2. Sift the flour, salt and bicarb into a mixing bowl and stir in the olives and chopped rosemary.

3. Mix the yoghurt with 3 tablespoons of water and then add to the flour mixture. Stir with a table knife to bring the dough together into a clean ball. You may need to add a little more water to achieve this.

3. Lightly grease a baking tray and then press the dough out into a 15cm/6 inch disk on the tray. Mark into six wedges with a knife, taking care not to cut all the way through. Stick a rosemary sprig into each each 'wedge'.

4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped underneath. Cool on a wire rack before cutting into wedges and enjoying!

Notes - this is best eaten on the day it is made. However, it does freeze well.


Lucy said...

I'm always a bit nervous about making bread but your results look delicious! I am definitely tempted :)

Kerri said...

I couldn't agree more, I find bread making the opposite of relaxing and end up more stressed than I was when I started.

I like the sound of this, particular the Weight Watchers aspect. It's been a very indulgent summer for me and I need some interesting, healthier options.

C said...

That looks lovely Antonia - soda bread always goes so well with soup.

Incidentally, I know you said you're not interested in making bread by hand but if you get the urge to try again, oil your hands and work surface rather than flouring and you'll find sticky dough so much less of a problem!

Antonia said...

C - what a great tip. I'm sure I'll have another go at some point and will be certain to give the oil method a try. Makes a lot of sense!

Antonia said...

Lucy - this is so much easier than a yeasted bread and takes no time at all.

Kerri - glad to hear that I'm not the only one. I like the tip about the oil though from C below - might try that 'next' time.

bellini valli said...

The breadmaker would probably ensure that the olives were distributed evenly. That has always been a challenge for me. This looks so tasty.

Sam said...

That looks great, I love all the bits of rosemary sticking out of it. This would be fantastic with some good homemade soup.

Maria♥ said...

This bread looks great and low-fat gets my vote!


Scott at Real Epicurean said...

I have been thinking about re-visiting soda bread for a while now with a view to making it more savoury.

You've just saved me having to think up a recipe.

Antonia said...

Val - I did this by hand actually and so the olives were not particularly evenly distributed after all. Not too bad though!

Sam - yes, very delicious with a steaming hot bowl of homemade soup.

Maria - always good to find something delicious which is also low in fat!

Scott - let me know if you try the recipe and enjoy it. Hope that you do!

Margaret said...

Lovely rustic loaf - and befitting of your new surroundings.
I always use a bread machine, even if it's just to make the dough and feel not a single ounce of shame. In fact, I rejoice in the fact that I haven't had to sweat, puff or pant!