Monday, 10 March 2014

Black Olive Quick Bread

Baking requires a specific state of mind.  It's the only time when mise en place - measuring and organizing all the ingredients you need for the recipe - really matters.  It requires precision and attention.  It's not like cooking. It's not a dash of this and a handful of that.  It's not a Pollock painting.

Baking requires serenity.  It begins with a warm house, and all is quiet but the calming buzzing of the oven.  Spooning flour into a bowl, while watching the numbers on the scale.  Pouring in the liquid, as you bend down to be at eye levels with the measuring jug.  Gradually tipping in the cream, and gently folding everything in.  And you let out a sigh and all is well.  Seeing the ingredients amalgamate, and the colors fuse, to form a uniform batter.  Feeling the soft dough against your fingertips and palms, as you knead, and knead, and knead.  It's just you and the calm buzzing of the oven.  The house smells of comfort -- it smells of spices, yeast and herbs.  You're in control, you're focused on the present, and nothing else matters.  Precision and attention and a sense of achievement when you pull your baby out of the oven.  And in that calming and relaxing process, nothing else matters -- baking requires a specific state of mind, and I suppose it's how some people feel about yoga. 

The sprinkling of pumpkin seeds really makes it beautiful, doesn't it?  It's a flavorsome bread with olives, cheese and herbs.  You can bake them in muffin tins as well. It's great with soups, or just on its own, toasted with a drizzle of olive oil. 
It's very versatile, so just play around with the ingredients. 

Recipe adapted from here 
250g flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
50g parmesan, grated
100g olives, pitted and sliced
3 medium eggs
50ml olive oil
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
40g pumpkin seeds

Preheat the oven to 180C.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and parmesan. 

In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs with the olive oil and milk.  Stir in the olives and herbs.  Stir the wet ingredients together with the wet.  Pour the batter into a bread tin.  Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and bake 25-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. 

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