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red onion and rosemary bread (with the most perfect olive oil in the world)

April 27, 2013

Makes one large loaf
Prep time: 2 hours 15 minutes, including proving time

Red onion and rosemary bread, main pic

My mum and stepdad are lucky enough to live on a Greek island.  A few weeks ago the girls and I went out for a visit and, while we were there, we went to see a good family friend, Ady, on his land where he is building a home (and erecting an impressive totem pole) among about fifty olive trees.

When we left he and Caroline, his missus, gave me a whole litre of their oil.  Extra virgin, first pressed, organic olive oil from the actual trees that we had just been sitting under.  I mean, wow.  How Observer Food Monthly is that?  My middle-class, back-to-the-earth sensibilities burst their banks and ran everywhere.  It was an incredibly generous gift, especially considering they only had 30 litres in that year’s whole harvest.

Ady plus totem, plus trees

Ady with his mightily impressive totem, made by his own hands

So this beautiful, translucent litre of green-gold perfection has been sitting on my kitchen worktop ever since, still in the same plastic pop bottle I transported it home in.  And the trouble is I have been revering it too much to actually do anything with it.  One precious litre.  I don’t want to waste it on salads or pasta – the very thought!  I want to save it for something really special.

In the meantime there it sits, while I gaze at it in quiet awe and my husband walks past sniggering that it looks like a bottle of wee.

Anyway, earlier this week I decided things were getting a bit ridiculous.  I could only see one way out of the impasse, and that was to bake bread.

This is what I made – red onion and rosemary bread.  Hubby and I ate almost the whole loaf while it was still warm, dunking it chunk by chunk into sublimely flavourful olive oil until it ran down our chins.

Here is the recipe.  Eat it with the best oil you can find – and no, you’re not having any of mine.

Ingredients

Strong white bread flour, 500g
Warm water, 350ml
Dried yeast, 2 tsp
Sugar, 1 tsp
Salt, 1 tsp
Olive oil, 3 tbsp
Two medium red onions, finely sliced
Salted water, 3-4 tbsp
Fresh rosemary, 3-4 sprigs, leaves picked and roughly chopped
Good quality extra virgin olive oil, for dunking

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a frying pan and gently fry the onion for 15 minutes, over a medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.  In the last five minutes add the rosemary too.  Season with salt and pepper, take off the heat and allow to cool.

Pour the warm water into a large bowl, add the yeast and sugar and stir briefly.  Put aside for about five minutes until the yeast is activated and bubbles start to collect on the surface.  With your fingers stir in the flour, salt and onion/rosemary mixture, with as much of the oil from the frying pan as you can scrape off, until it all comes together into a sticky dough.

Knead the dough for a good ten minutes until smooth and elastic.  Form it into a ball.  Pour about 1 tbsp of oil into your hand, rub it all over both palms and then rub it all over the dough ball.  Put the ball into a clean bowl, cover with a tea towel, and leave in a warm place to rise for one hour.

After an hour punch the dough down, then form it into a loaf using your favourite method (I like to form it into a flattish square, then fold it into thirds and tuck the ends underneath).  Place it on a baking tray, re-cover with the teatowel, and leave to rise for a further 15 minutes.

In the meantime get the oven heated up to 220C.

After 15 minutes remove the teatowel and brush the surface of the loaf with salted water.  Dust a bit of flour over it and make two or three slits on the top.

Bake at 220C for eight minutes, then reduce the heat to 170C and bake for a further 35 minutes.  The bottom of the loaf should sound hollow when tapped.

Serve warm, with a little pot of extra virgin for dunking.

Red onion and rosemary bread, cut

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From → Baking, Recipes

6 Comments
  1. Penniless Veggie permalink

    Wow! I’ve started getting into baking homemade ‘artisanal’ (aka posh) breads recently too, so good to have that gorgeous yeasty aroma saturating the house at the weekend. As to olive oil, I buy less of it than I once did, often going in for stuff like hemp or cold pressed sunflower these days, but then I don’t have access to such green-gold glories as you’ve described here! Lovely post, and red onion and rosemary is now on my ‘breads to bake’ list!

  2. This is looks so gorgeous, well done! =)

  3. Adrian Hill permalink

    Thanks Jen the bread looks fantastic, I’ll bake some when I have a minute.
    Next time I’m in the UK maybe you would like me to bring you another litre or two of olive oil oh and by the way the totem pole is now finished so you’ll have to come back to see it. Ade.xxx

    • 😀 😀 no way! That would be amazing!! Cheers Uncle Ade, hope you don’t mind me pinching your pic for the blog. We’ll all do a dance round your totem pole next time we visit xxx

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