Scandi Rye Bread with Fennel and Pumpkin Seeds

The smell of freshly baked bread wafting through the house is one of the best smells in the world, and this bread does not fail to deliver on that front. Roasted pumpkin seeds teamed with baked bread is an absolute winner, too. So that’s a win/win situation, right?

Mixed with plain flour, this rye bread isn’t too dense yet retains a sourdough quality. Perfect with smoked salmon, beetroot and dill – or just with a bit of butter. Yum.

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Focaccia with Sundried Tomatoes and Rosemary

Focaccia with Sundried Tomatoes and Rosemary

This right here people, is a really simple focaccia recipe. The dough itself simply involves 4 ingredients, requires a mix, a good knead, a quick roll some chopped sundried tomatoes and rosemary for the filling and then – ecco ragazzi,  focaccia con pomodori secchi e rosmarino!

However, please, please do not mistake simple for quick. Simple doesn’t mean 5 minute bread. Expect a good hour and a half of proving time, but trust me when I say the results are totally worth the wait.

What’s even better about this recipe is that you could use any ingredients for the filling, oregano, basil, prosciutto, olives, cheese, asparagus – the list goes on.

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 1 packet of fast action yeast (I use the brand Allison)
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 175ml warm water

For the filling:

  • 50g sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • Bunch of fresh rosemary, half finely chopped and half broken off into small sprigs
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Method:

In a large bowl combine the flour, yeast and salt and mix well. Gradually pour in the water whilst mixing with a spoon to bring the dough together, then use your hands until the dough comes together in a ball.

On a lightly floured surface knead the dough for 10 minutes, adding flour when needed to prevent sticking. The dough should be smooth and elastic, when you poke your finger in it should spring back.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for around 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.

Roll to dough out on an oiled work surface into a rough rectangle, then slide a lightly oiled baking tray under half of it. Top this half of the rectangle with the sundried tomatoes and chopped rosemary, a sprinkle of seasoning and a little olive oil, then fold the other half of the dough over, pressing the edges together and under.

Preheat oven to 240 °c

Cover with clingfilm and leave to rest for around 30 minutes. Once the dough has rested, make dents all over by pressing in with your fingers, drizzle with some olive oil, sprinkle with salt and push the rosemary sprigs into the dents.

Bake for 15 minutes until golden.

Buon appetito!

Makes one large focaccia, feeds 1 -4

Kalamata Olive Bread

Kalamata Olive Bread

There are a few things that really remind me of Cyprus, and one of those things is of course olive bread. I remember every morning during the summer months waking up in Larnaka to find my dad eating olive bread with halloumi and tomatoes – his standard breakfast, even in London.

As a child I hated olives, I mean I really hated olives. Now however, I love them. I eat them all the time. I’m addicted. They’re amazing. Kalamata olives? Yes please! Kalamata olives in bread? I’ve already eaten a loaf in my mind.

This recipe is pretty simple however patience is needed as you need to allow the dough to prove, but think about it this way – whilst the dough is doing it’s thing in a bowl, you can be doing your thing with some sliced halloumi and a griddle.

Ingredients:

For the bread starter:

  • 240ml warm water
  • 7g sachet of fast action yeast (I use a brand called Allison)
  • 120g flour

For the dough:

  • 160ml water
  • 1 sachet quick yeast
  • 500g flour
  • Salt
  • 250g Kalamata olives, with the pips removed and roughly chopped
  • Honey

Method:

To make the starter, combine the warm water with the yeast then once this has dissolved add the flour and mix until everything is combined. Cover with clingfilm and leave to ferment for around 30 minutes at room temperature.

For the dough combine water, yeast and 3 tablespoons of honey in a large bowl and stir well until the yeast has dissolved. Then add the flour, salt, olives and the bread starter and bring the mixture together with your hands until a dough has formed. If it is too sticky then just add a little bit of flour. Remove the dough from the bowl and on a lightly floured surface knead the dough for a good 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.

Put the dough into a large bowl and cover with clingfilm, then leave to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. After 30 minutes divide the dough into two pieces, shape into round loaves and place on a baking tray. Cover with clingfilm and let prove for 30 minutes in a warm place, like next to a radiator.

At this point preheat your oven to 200°c

Once proved, sprinkle the loaves with a little water and bake in the oven for around 30-40 minutes until the crust is golden.

Eat on its own/ toasted with butter/ with halloumi/ with tomatoes/ with figs/ with more olives/ with a smile.

Makes 2 loaves