The smell of freshly baked bread is one of life’s great pleasures; so for those of us who can no longer eat the ‘real’ stuff our enjoyment is usually left to scent alone. When put like that, the aroma of a loaf straight from the oven is more an experience of torture and temptation rather than gratification. It always makes me happy to take a scenario such as this and turn it on its head. So how about this for an idea: a freshly baked loaf, straight from the oven, seeped in the heady of aroma of oregano, salty with the taste of olives and crusty and pliable to the bite. Tempted?
This is a glorious and simple little loaf of bread that is both delicious and heartening. Based on a Turkish method of baking bread, I use just a little baking powder as the raising agent. It lends the loaf a good interior quality, while allowing the combination of olive oil and rice milk to smooth and flavour the batter. It is a wonderful bread to make for an impromptu lunch or supper with friends and family, the speed of its preparation key to making it a blissfully easy bake. Serve it with hoummous, roasted peppers and courgettes and a bowl of really good quality olive oil to dip in to. Or, offer it up alongside a bowl of spaghetti with an intense beef or lamb ragu. I really recommend always using black olives as I prefer their slightly more concentrated, rounded flavour, but feel free to substitute the oregano with other herbs: thyme or mint work particularly well.
It is worth noting that making bread without gluten, dairy, eggs and yeast will not go unnoticed in terms of its texture. Loaves without eggs or yeast lack anything substantial to help them leaven and rise and so will always be a little denser than your average. Don’t hold this against them; they are delicious nonetheless. One of the benefits of this type of bread is that it toasts brilliantly. My recommendation would be to serve it hot out of the oven initially and then toast it thereafter. If you find yourself left with a few ends then drizzle with a little olive oil and roast or fry into croutons – they will be the best you’ve ever had.
OLIVE AND OREGANO BREAD
Makes 1 loaf
You will need a 2lb loaf tin for this recipe
350g/12oz Doves Farm Gluten Free Plain Flour
100g/3½ oz Doves Farm Gluten Free Self-raising Flour
1 tsp baking powder
200ml/8floz rice milk
75ml/3floz olive oil
2 eggs – 2 heaped tsp Orgran Egg Replacer mixed whisked together with 4 tbsp water
75g/3oz dry black olives, stoned
The leaves from 8 sprigs of oregano
1 tsp sea salt flakes
Preheat the oven to 175c (155c Fan) and grease the loaf tin with olive oil or butter replacement. Combine the egg, water and rice milk in a jug and set aside. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl and then slowly pour in the liquid mix, a bit at a time, stirring as you go, until you have a smooth and creamy dough.
Roughly chop the olives and then stir these, along with the oregano and olive oil, in to the dough mixture. Spoon the bread dough into the loaf tin and level the top. Bake in the oven for 1 hour until risen and pale gold on top. Turn the bread out of the tin and serve it straight from the oven, warm and crisp.