One of the first things we run out of when on a long passage is fresh bread. It is also one of the easiest problems to remedy. My night watches are the perfect time for making bread. It helps pass the time, and I can still pop my head up and take a look around every five minutes or so. I make the dough during my 9PM to midnight watch, let it rise while I'm sleeping, then try to time it so that it is hot and just out of the oven at the end of my 3AM to 6AM watch. The smell of the freshly baked bread greets Marcie when she gets up, and we enjoy a slice or two over our morning cuppas while discussing whatever happened (or broke) during the night.
Kalamata olive bread is one of our favorites. This recipe makes one large loaf.
- ½ cup (100 ml) warm water
- 1 tsp (3g) dry yeast
- ½ cup (75g) flour
- 1/3 cup (66 ml) warm water
- 1 Tbs (20ml) honey or ½ Tbs (6g) brown sugar
- 2 tsp (6g) dry yeast
- 1 Tbs (5g) rosemary
- 1 Tbs (5g) oregano
- 1/8 cup (30ml) olive oil
- 2-1/2 cup (375g) flour
- 1 cup (200g) kalamata olives, pitted and sliced lengthwise
- 1 tsp (15g) salt
- optional: ½ cup (125g) sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds
- cornmeal as needed
- Starter: Water should be just warm to the touch. If it is too hot, it will kill the yeast. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water, then add the flour and stir until thoroughly mixed. Cover and let it stand 30 minutes.
- Dough: Combine water, honey or sugar, and yeast, and mix until yeast is dissolved. Add herbs, oil, flour, the starter, olives, and seeds, and mix well. Move to a floured surface, and sprinkle salt over dough. Knead for 5 minutes, adding flour as needed. Put the dough in a greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Transfer to a floured surface, punch it down to get rid of air bubbles, and shape (don't knead again). Grease a cookie sheet and dust with cornmeal, then transfer the dough to the cookie sheet. Let rise in a warm place for two hours. (On my night watch, I let it rise for 3 hours during my off-watch).
- Preheat oven to 450F (230C). Raise the upper oven rack to the second level above the flame and slide an oven proof pan onto the lower rack. About 5 minutes before putting the bread in the oven, add about 1 cup (250ml) of water to the pan. This produces steam for the first 5-10 minutes of baking. The steam keeps the outer layer of dough soft and flexible for a few more minutes, allowing the yeast to continue rising. The result will be a slightly lighter loaf with a brown crust. Score the top of the loaf with a sharp knife or razor and slide the bread into the oven. Bake at 450 (230C) for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 400F (200C) and continue baking for another 20-30 minutes. Bread is done when you get a slightly hollow sound when the loaf is rapped with a knuckle.