Since I haven’t done anything wholly savoury on my blog since it started, I thought I should probably broaden my horizons slightly when it comes to savoury flavours. I therefore decided to give making bread another go, partially as a result of bread week on the bake off, but also because it is an area of baking I don’t explore enough. Apart from anything else, no one is going to complain to a freshly baked loaf of bread, so I took the ‘what’s the worst that could happen’ attitude and turned to Paul Hollywood yet again. I decided to adapt a simple ciabatta recipe from his ‘Bread’ recipe book as the recipe I used for my Camembert, Date and Walnut Pain de Savoie worked out really well. I also think ciabatta is a bit more commonly recognised and therefore popular, so since I quite fancied going back to more basic concepts and recipes I thought this would be a good choice. For this recipe I chose to use some chilli and ginger olives made by a company called silver green, again from Brown’s Lakeside Larder. I thought these were intriguing flavours to pair with olives, so in true form I went for the more unusual option to change things up a bit.
However, I also stayed true to form in other aspects of my baking, which resulted in the making of two loaves as opposed to the planned one. A bout of bread rage sparked by confusion over what constitutes as a batter and what constitutes a dough (for which I still blame Mr Hollywood) was resolved by making two versions of the same recipe. Knowing how temperamental bread can be I settled for two slightly stick doughs, one of which I kneaded for 5 minutes and the other I left alone. I have to be honest that both still worked fairly well, making me look a bit foolish for all the fuss once the loaves came out the oven. One thing I will add is that when you are turning the dough out at the final stage, make sure the bench is well floured or you will use a lot of the air which is noticeable in the final bake.
I also added some extra chilli and ginger to one of the loaves and added the olives earlier so they were more evenly dispersed. But, on the whole, this didn’t make any huge amount of difference in the final result. Both doughs worked fairly well and, again if I’m being modest, tasted pretty good. Promising to take some to work a couple of days later actually required more restraint than I thought. I have to admit, however, the chilli and ginger didn’t carry as well as I hoped. Although there was some slight heat to parts of the loaf, it didn’t differ vastly from a standard olive ciabatta. Dipping the bread in the oil used to preserve and marinade the olives unsurprisingly complimented it really nicely, but unfortunately I don’t think the olives themselves were strong enough to carry the flavour. However, it worked and it tasted lovely, so I’m not complaining. Adding a larger quantity of chilli flakes and ground ginger would obviously help, so I have incorporated this into my recipe below. However, feel free to add more! Either way I hope you enjoy!
Chilli and Ginger Olive Ciabatta (makes 1 medium loaf)
- 200g strong white bread flour
- 3.5g/ 1 tsp of fast action dried yeast
- 150ml cold water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3.5g salt
- Chilli and ginger olives, approx. 8, stoned and roughly chopped
- Chilli flakes (optional)
- Ground ginger (optional)
- Semolina for dusting
- Put half the flour, yeast and water in a bowl and mix until it forms a slightly sticky dough. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to prove somewhere warm for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Once proved, add this dough to a mixer with the remaining flour and yeast. Add the salt, making sure it is not on top of the yeast, the rest of the water and the olive oil and mix with a dough hook for 10 minutes. Stop the mixer and add the olives with the chilli flakes and the ginger if you are using them. Use your judgement to decide how much too add but make sure you don’t add so much that it alters the consistency of the dough. Mix for another 5 minutes until the dough is stretchy.
- Tip the dough into a large oiled box, cover with an oiled lid and leave to prove for another 2 hours.
- Heavily dust a work surface with an even mixture of flour and semolina. Dust a baking tray with the same mix. Gently tip the dough onto the dusted surface and carefully stretch to reach the desire shape. Be careful not to lose too much air. Lift carefully onto the tray and dust the tops with the flour mix. Put the tray into a large plastic bag and leave to rise for another 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 220C/ 200C Fan/ 400F
- Bake the loaves for around 30-40 minutes until risen and golden brown. They should sound hollow if you tap the bottoms. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.