Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Olive oil bread and calzone

A recipe for a good simple loaf of bread is hard to find.  I am sure there are many out there.  That is the problem.  Which one to choose?  It is a veritable tyranny of choice out there!  Simple should be easy.  Yet I fear dull, dry and dreary when it comes to simple breads.  Recipes need to inspire.  I need a source I can trust.  Enter Brydie's step by step guide to making olive oil bread.  Having made four batches of this bread over the last month, I can highly recommend it.

I have made it in the evening when we haven't managed to get out and buy a loaf of bread.  What I love about this bread is it uses ingredients I have on hand and it is works in with my lifestyle.  I have tried adding wholemeal flour.  I have left it rising while I go to the supermarket and get chatting to a friends.  I have paused to photograph the salt hog because my new celtic sea salt reminded me of the sand on the beach and then I have forgotten how much salt I put in.  I have made it with canola oil rather than olive oil.  I have tried making it using the sponge method that Mollie Katzen favours.  I have made it between Sylvia's bath and Downton Abbey on the telly.

I make it in my bread tin.  It comes out with a gorgeous golden brown crust.  It looks just like a regular loaf of bread we might buy from our local bakers.  It slices easily.  It makes excellent toast.  It keeps well for a few days.  It is a joy to wake up to a fresh loaf.  The recipe is adapted from The Bourke Street Bakery cookbook.  I was interested to find another adaption of the same recipe for Parmesan Breadsticks where they say that the recipe works fine with regular flour.

Brydie recommends using this dough in a variety of ways.  I love her fish bread.  I want to make the sunflower bread that first drew me to her blog.  My first variation was taking her advice that the dough makes excellent calzones. I needed a loaf of bread and I needed dinner.  So I made two batches of dough.  I used a Jamie Oliver vegetarian calzone recipe to inspire me for the filling.

I was a bit unsure how to prepare the calzones.  Pinching it together to seal it was quite different from making pasties.  Bread dough is far more robust and flexible than pastry.  The calzones were huge.  E and I enjoyed ours.  I ate another one for lunch over two days and  still have one in the freezer.  Sylvia had a plainer one with just mozzarella and didn't eat heaps but maybe a small amount was enough for her.  Definitely something with which I would like to experiment further.

It has been a while since I posted any bread recipes but with the winter chill settling in, 'tis the season for bread baking.  I am sending this bread to Susan's YeastSpotting weekly event.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Japanese-style pumpkin soup for busy days
This time two years ago: Slideshows, Nostalgia and Hedgehog
This time three years ago: Pumpkin Pancakes on Parade
This time four years ago: PPN#19: You say tuna, I say tempeh!

Olive oil bread
From CityHippyFarmGirl (adapted by Brydie from Bourke Street Bakery

600g plain flour*
2 tsp dried yeast
1/2 tsp sugar (optional if you want to feed the yeast)
400mls lukewarm water
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp salt
extra flour for kneading

1. Put yeast, sugar (if using) warm water and the flour* in a large mixing bowl.  Leave for 10 minutes.  It will be a dry shaggy mess if you add all the flour at this point but don't worry.

* I have tried a few different ways with flour.  It works with one third or a half wholemeal flour (and a few teaspoons of gluten flour if it is not bread flour).  I have made one batch with just a handful of flour for the first 10 minutes and added the rest of the flour after that time.

2. At the end of the 10 minutes add olive oil and salt, and the rest of the flour if you didn't add it all at the start.  Stir to combine as much as possible.  It is a not easy to add the oil and salt (and much easier if you hold back some flour to add at this point) but once you start kneading, it is fine if you haven't completely mixed it it.

Tip dough onto lightly floured board and knead until soft with an ear lobe consistency.  This dough doesn't need much flour, just a light dusting every now and again while you knead.  I kneaded it for 10 minutes the first few times but then I thought it was coming together within a few minutes and found that 5 minutes was fine.

3. Scrape any loose bits of dough out of the mixing bowl with your hands and place the dough in the bowl.  Cover with a damp teatowel.  Let rise for about 30 minutes or until doubled in size.  I have left this to rise for over an hour and it seems to be ok.

4. At this point Brydie folds it but I am not so good at folding dough and have often being hurrying so I might make a half hearted attempt to fold it a couple of time.  Mostly I just knead it for about a minute.  Return it to the bowl covered with the damp teatowel and rise another 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

5. Knead about a minute and either place on a greased tray or place in a greased bread tin.  I do the latter (my bread tin in 25cm x 9cm and about 10cm high).  I cut it in half, roughly knead each half into a neat ball and then press the two halves of the dough into the tray so they are about even in the tin.  Cover with the damp teatowel and leave to rise about two thirds.  Mine gets to about an inch from the top of the tin but rises to the top once baked.

6. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 240 C.  Brydie suggests steam in the oven so I have taken to filling a loaf tin (not a shallow tin) with water and placing it in the bottom of the oven, preferably when the oven is cold.  Bake bread for about 25 minutes or until dough is a deep golden brown and hollow when knocked.  The crust might seem quite crusty when it is first out of the oven but once it cools it will just be lovely and soft.

7. Tip loaf out of tin (or off the tray) and cool on a wire rack.  Leave for at least an hour and more if possible before cutting the first slice.  Lasts well for a few days but by then it is usually finished.

Mushroom and Spinach Calzone
adapted from Jamie Oliver
makes 4 large calzones

1 x olive oil dough recipe (prepared to stage 4 above)
flour, for dusting
olive oil

1 onion
500g mixed mushrooms (I used button mushrooms), sliced
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

pinch salt
freshly ground black pepper
300ml passata (pureed tomatoes)

70g pitted black olives, chopped
300g spinach leaves, washed and spun dry
185g mozzarella, diced

Cook onion in a little oil for about 5-10 minutes until lightly browned.  In a separate large frypan, cook the mushrooms in olive oil on high heat until starting to brown and smelling marvellous.  Add cooked onions, garlic, thyme leaves and salt and pepper.  Cook a few minutes then pour in passata and sprinkle with olives.  Gently simmer until a lot of the tomato sauce is absorbed.  I think I did this for about 15 minutes or maybe more.  Stir from time to time while it cooks.  Add spinach leaves until wilted (I did this in two batches.

To assemble, cut the dough into four pieces and lightly knead each piece.  Roll each piece out on a lightly floured board (I think about 20cm diameter).  I used my hands and a rolling pin.  Spoon about a quarter of the mixture onto one side of each round of dough.  Fold dough over filling and pinch at edges to seal.  Place on greased trays.

Bake at 240 C for 15 minutes or until dough is nicely browned and sounds hollow when tapped on.

On the Stereo:
Retrospectacle: the Supertramp Anthology


  1. I was only thinking the other day that I would like to make calzone!

  2. This bread recipe looks interesting, will have to try this next time I bake a loaf. I never manage to achieve a crusty top so will give your water in the oven trick a try.

    When I make calzones (which is very often as they are heavily requested), I try to roll the dough out fairly thin so they don't turn out too bready.

  3. I've been having the same problem when wanting to make my own bread -- too much choice! But thanks for taking the guess work out of it for me with this recipe. I'm also on the hunt for a good tomato and parmesan bread recipe. I've yet to try making a calzone at home but you've definitely inspired me.

  4. What a handsome loaf of bread! I adore calzone, but have never thought of making them at home.

  5. Stiiiiill terrified of yeast, but I'm really intrigued by this recipe because I've been looking for recipes to use my thyme-infused olive oil in and this would probably work wonders...

  6. That's a great looking loaf, Johanna!
    I make pizza dough twice a week, & lately I've been adding 50g of rye flour which makes the dough more friendly when flattening it out. So have a try adding different flours.

  7. My friend taught me a new bread making technique that I can't wait to play around with! :D A good bread recipe is so vital!

  8. Is it me or does a calzone take on the resemblence of a really big smile? No matter. Eating calzones definitely makes me smile.

    Thanks for the blog posting Johanna. Hmm... I see calzones on the dinner plate this coming weekend.

  9. What a lovely fluffy loaf. I love the addition of olive oil. And those calzones look just beautiful! That oozing cheese looks FANTASTIC.

  10. That calzone looks wonderful! Man I hate being hungry at 9 AM :P

  11. Oh what are you and City Hippy trying to do to me. I keep thinking I'm happy with my rye sourdough but then I see this and start salivating - both at bread and calzone ;-) Looks wonderful. Isn't it good to find a bread recipe you can rely on?

  12. I'm always a bit afraid to try new bread recipes because you don't want them to be boring after you've put in so much time and energy! This sounds delicious, though!

  13. Johanna,
    This bread looks so good it probably needs no improvement, but I'll give my thoughts on the bread-making process, perhaps for those like Hannah who are intimidated by the world of yeast.
    I've found four things worth knowing about bread...
    1) The amount of water is the best way to control the size of the loaf (don't worry about the other ingredients). So use a standard measure for the water, and just throw in other things. Oil(or fat) and salt are just about flavour, so add enough to make it taste good, but not so much that it inhibits the yeast growth.
    2) Use the amount of yeast to control the timeframe for your loaf. The amount of yeast in Johanna's recipe is for your typical home bake timetable. If you want to slow it right down, and get the flavour benefits of a long fermentation (or simply want to go out all day), use as little as half a teaspoon of yeast. All that it means is that your bread will rise more slowly, but eventually it will double in size, and that's when to knock it down. The temperature matters too, but once again, it has to be very cold or very hot (think oven temperatures) to kill the yeast. Hotter means a faster rise, obviously.
    3)Don't worry too much about your flour. It matters if the flour is wheat or not, because most breads need gluten (not having this means specialist techniques, and very different results), but apart from that, different baking traditions use quite different flours. European traditions tend to use softer (AKA lower protein, lower gluten) flours and the Anglo-American ones harder flours. Personally I prefer softer flours, but let your tastebuds guide you on this one.
    4) Kneading tends to be over-rated, so don't wear yourself out, unless you need the therapy! Allowing the flour to absorb the water properly is useful, because you can judge how much flour you really need. So mix in a reasonable amount of flour, go put your feet up for 15 minutes, and then come back and finish the job. The most kneading I ever do is 1 minute (ten minute break), another minute (10 m.break), and a final minute. Much less tiring, and perfectly effective (this suggestion from an English baker whose name I can't remember).
    Sorry about the long post...

  14. As usual, a gorgeous loaf. You make me wish I could bake bread! The calzone is beautiful, too--as Rivki says above, love that pic with the cheese oozing out! But even the plain loaf looks appealing. :)

  15. It's such a joy when you find a new recipe that is destined to become a trusted one. Your loaf looks perfect!

    The orange, lavender & almond cake of your previous post looks amazing! I'd love to try it. Where did you purchase the dried lavender from?

  16. I read that really carefully Johanna. If I can find the time, I am going to try this. I knew I had too as soon as I saw the photo. Thanks to Yaz for the tips :)

  17. Thanks Lisa - I have always thought I needed pizza dough for calzones, so it is interesting to think that bread dough will do the job

    thanks Mel - the bread wasn't really crusty once it cooled, though we had the last calzone today from the freezer so it had to be in the oven a while and got quite crusty without the water (and don't use a shallow tray for the water like I did the first time and leave it preheating for ages so it dried up)

    Thanks Keeley - hope you enjoy this recipe - would love a good tomato and parmesan bread myself - I tried a sundried tomato bread recently from Dan Lepard but it didn't work that well for me

    Thanks Cakelaw - I think it was my first time - am keen to find a few different fillings so may have to look at cafe ones for ideas

    Thanks Hannah - would love to try this with a fancy pants olive oil - hope that Yaz's tips are helpful - and you should check out Brydie's step by step version of the recipe if you are interested in trying it

    Thanks Pene - interesting that rye flour helps the dough flatten - must try some in pizza dough

    Thanks Lorraine - hope you share your friends tip - I am intrigued

    Thanks Chucky - of course the calzones are smiling at you - they are friendly food :-)

    Thanks Rivki - loved the oozing cheese - though I wasn't sure that the dough was ready to be cut as it got a bit clumpy as you can see in the oozing photo!

    Thanks Sharan - being hungry at 9am means time to plan dinner :-)

    Thanks Choclette - am jealous of your rye sourdough - I hope to get there one day

    Thanks Joanne - bread is too much work for boring results - but I can guarantee this one

    Thanks Yaz - you really should have a bread making blog (and an oven) but am glad that at least you are sharing your tips here - will have to try regular plain flour - interesting that you say oil and salt inhibit the yeast growth because maybe that is why they are added later in the recipe. And re kneading - I was surprised that it really didn't take that long to feel smooth and supple - such a great revelation when rushing about!

    thanks ricki - I wish you could bake bread too - it is such a pleasurable activity - esp eating the bread at the end - but maybe you could do yeast free calzones somehow???

    Thanks Quincepoacher - I keep meaning to try other loaves but feel it can't get much better than this one for a plain unassuming loaf and then I wonder why I would need to try other flavours when this tastes so good (but maybe lavender bread - will put the lavender source on my cake post for you

    Thanks Jacqueline - I find the evenings are easiest and if sylvia is creating a fuss the bread will wait - good luck with finding some time

  18. I just made this bread today and it is excellent! I make bread a lot, and I agree that it can sometimes be difficult to find a standard one that is a great multi-purpose/all around bread and this fit the bill! Mine turned out very large and handsome! And you are right about the type of flour being flexible. I used 300 g bread flour/75 g buckwheat/25 g gluten/200 g wholemeal spelt and it turned out great (I was running low on wholemeal flour).

  19. Yay! So glad you like this one! It's an adaptable little beast isn't it.
    As a flat bread with rosemary and chunks of sea salt taste good too.
    Happy bread making :-)

  20. Thanks Sarah - must try a bit of buckwheat in this loaf - sounds great - glad you enjoyed it

    Thanks Brydie - am just loving it - will have to try it as a flatbread - made it again this weekend

  21. That is some most perfect looking bread! And the calzones are so adorable!


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