The fourth loaf in the the Italian Bread Project is Olive Oil Bread. For those of you who have just tuned in, I have decided to work my way through The Italian Baker by Carol Field – with the slight twist that I am transforming every recipe into a sourdough recipe. The reason is because Al, head chef at The Clink is Italian and loves Italian bread but, as we cannot use yeast at High Down, we bake exclusively with sourdough. Hence the Italian Bread project.
Olive oil bread is described as one of the regional or rustic breads that is typically served with cold meats or antipasti. As a sourdough it was sensational. Soft crust and crumb, moist and extremely tasty, textured and simply delicious. I did follow the directions which means I used lard but you could substitute butter or any hard fat.
Sourdough Olive Oil Bread
15 g sourdough rye starter
80 g wheat flour
50 g water
Mix, cover and leave overnight. Incidentally, this is a pretty good substitute for a Biga. So, from now on, whenever I need Biga, I will just make the above.
The refreshed sourdough from above
200 g water
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 teaspoons lard or other hard fat at room temperature
420 g wheat flour
10 g salt
Dissolve the refreshed sourdough in the water and then add the oil and the fat. Mix completely. Add the flour and knead for 10 minutes. Add the salt and knead for another 5.
Let rest in the bowl for 60 minutes.
Remove from the bowl, do a little stretch and fold and then put back in the bowl which you have coated with olive oil. Let rest for 60 minutes.
Remove from the bowl and divide into two pieces. Shape into loose balls and cover with a damp tea towel. Let rest 30 minutes.
Shape and put in baskets or tins.
Let rise another 2 hours or so – until risen about 50% – when you prod it gently with your finger, the indentation should come out within a minute or so.
Roll gently out of the basket onto a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Brush with olive oil and then sprinkle with sea salt. Bake at 200 C (400 F) for 40-45 minutes. Yum.