Saturday, 24 March 2012

Olive bread (1)

I had olive bread for breakfast at the Swiss Garden Resort & Spa near Kuantan. It tasted better than the other breads served. At first I had thought it was black mushroom bread but it was black olives.

I recalled the Quran mentioned 'zaitun' (olives) and other accounts about where the olive groves are.
Abu Asid cited that Rasulullah s.a.w. advised (in Arabic) to consume and use olive oil as it originates from a blessed plant.

We know olives is the healthiest of all the edible oils we have today. Olive oil contains triglycerides that contain a type of long chain fatty acid called oleic acid. The chemical notation for oleic acid in C16:1 which means oleic acid is a monosaturated fatty acid (a healthy acid). It is healthy for the heart.
Women who ate the most of the monounsaturated fats, which can be found in olive oil, had better patterns of cognitive scores over time.

As for olive bread, the recipe calls for black olives. Black olives are sold in bottles containing brine (masin). Green olives have red jalapeno peppers stuck in the core and are sold in bottles containing vinegar (masam).

The flavor of olive bread depends on your choice of olive - Kalamata, Amfisa, Arbequina, Niscoise, etc. Some prefer to modify the recipe and add Italian seasoning and spices, substitute half the flour with whole wheat flour etc.

Green and black olives in glass bottles, from TESCO 

Olive bread at Swiss Garden Resort & Spa, near Kuantan 


3 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped black olives
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 tablespoon cornmeal


Grow the yeast:
First, you need to know whether the yeast you have is functional (active) and not dead. To do this, place warm water in a cup and add 1 Tabsp sugar, stir and add the yeast. Leave aside. Let the yeast grow/multiply/bloom until it fills the cup.

Prepare the bread dough:
  1. In a large bowl, mix together flour, yeast-sugar mixture, sugar, salt, black olives, olive oil, and water. Use your hand or electric mixer. The mixer will chop the olives even finer.
  2. Turn out dough onto a floured board. Knead until smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes. 
  3. Cover bowl with a damp cloth and set aside. Let rise about 45 minutes, until it doubles in size.
  4. Punch down the risen dough. Knead well again, for about 5 to 10 minutes. 
  5. Let the dough rise for about 30 minutes, until it doubles in size.
  6. Round the dough on kneading board. Place upside down in a bowl lined with a lint-free, well floured towel. Let rise until double in size. 
Prepare the oven:
  1. Put a pan of water in the bottom of the oven. 
  2. Preheat oven to 500F (260C) or 450F or 400F. If the oven is set too high, it will burn the crust black and the centre maybe cooked or still uncooked (soft). If the temperature is correct (for altitude & season), the crust will be brown and the centre will be properly cooked.
  1. Gently turn loaf/buns out onto a sheet pan that has been lightly oiled and dusted with cornmeal. 
  2. Bake loaf at 500F (260C) or 450F or 400F for 15 minutes. 
  3. Reduce heat to 375F (190C) to cook the centre.
  4. Bake for 30 more minutes, or until done (centre is cooked).
  5. Turn out the buns into a piece of waxed paper for serving. Serve hot or warm.