Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Venetian Olive Breads

This recipe accompanied my Viva Lewes Column on the 17th of November 2011

Konditor and Cook, posh bakers extraordinaire, do roll-sized versions of this Northern Italian classic. If you’re near the Borough Market this means lunch is sorted. Here is an attempt at something similar. Use whatever bread dough you fancy but this one is easy and works well. The whole thing takes about 5 1/2 hours all-in though you can do the first rising overnight.

Makes 8 rolls

For the Bread Dough

400g strong white bread flour or Italian’00’ flour if you can get it.
225 ml tepid water
1 level teaspoon of easy blend yeast

1 teaspoon finely chopped oregano
1 egg
25ml olive oil
Pinch of salt

For the filling

1 lump of fresh buffalo mozzarella
200g pitted green olives

1.    Heat the inside of a mixing bowl with boiling water. Mix the 225 ml of warm water and the yeast and  then beat in 175g of flour to make a batter. Cover with a towel and leave for 2-4 hours or overnight.
2.    When you come back to it fold in the oregano, egg (beaten first) and olive oil trying not to tear the stretchy glutens too much. Then fold in the flour and salt in a similar way. Use more flour if you need to but you’re trying to get a slightly sticky dough.
3.    Give it three quick kneads over the next half hour on a lightly oiled surface. (Sorry if you like kneading but the idea that a lot of it is necessary to build glutens is a myth). Then cover and leave for 30 mins.
4.    While you’re waiting slice the mozzarella thinly,  and make sure you have this, the olives and a small bowl of water handy. Grease a cookie sheet and put that nearby too.
5.    Put the dough on a lightly floured board, give it a quick knead and then cut it into eight roughly equal sized pieces. Roll one piece of dough into an approximately circular shape about 1/4 inch thick. Put a slice of the cheese in the middle of the dough circle and then 2-3 olives on top, then another slice of cheese on top of that. Then gather the edges of dough around the cheese and olives to make a kind of sealed parcel with the filling inside. Try and make sure it’s completely sealed. Wetting your fingers at this point might help it stick. Then flip it over and put it on the cookie tray with the round side up. Go through the same process with the remaining bits of dough, making sure the finished rolls are spaced out on tray. Once all the rolls are on the cookie tray cover them with a wet dish towel and leave them in a warm place to rise for 90 minutes or till they’ve doubled in size.
6.    Preheat your oven to 200C (180C fan) or gas 4. When they have risen take of the towel and bake the rolls for 12-15 minutes. You can brush them with beaten egg before cooking if you prefer. Leave them to cool a bit before eating.