Dinning in the city, is always a delight. So many things to enjoy – the exciting buzz of the unexpected, the trill of the day, the friendly company and in many occasions the good food. But in almost all self-respecting places, good food starts with compliments from the chef in the form of delicious bites or even better, variety of succulent and tasty home made breads. My favourite type are the herb focaccias or the rolls of olive bread. They are so completely irresponsible that I have started a collection of recipes on how to prepare a similar tasty sensation at home.
Sunday dinner with a dear friend, over delicious Italian anti-pasty and aromatic red wine seems to be the perfect occasion to try one of my classic receipts selections – olive and rosemary crown bread, glazed with sweet apricot jam. What an amazing show-stopper this bread turns out to be. So easy to make, yet so rich in flavour and looking absolutely spectacular! I was hoping for a few left over slices for the second day, but clearly it was not meant to be. Even better – I can make a new one any day!
- 250g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 tsp salt
- 7g fast-action yeast
- 2 tbsp dried rosemary
- 50g unsalted butter
- 135ml warm milk
- 1 free-range egg, beaten
For the filling
- 120g/4½oz black olive tapenade
- 3 tbsp apricot jam, warmed
- fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1. Put the flour, salt, yeast, dried rosemary and butter into a bowl, then rub the butter into the flour until it is like breadcrumbs.
2. Make a well in the centre. Add the milk and egg and use your hands to bring the dough together. Knead on a floured surface for 10 minutes, until stretchy and smooth. Put back into the bowl, cover with cling film, and leave until it has doubled in size (about 1½ hours).
3. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Flour a work surface and tip the dough out. Knock all the air out, then roll the dough into a rectangle about 33x25cm/13x10in. With the long edge facing you, spread the tapenade all over the dough.
4. Roll the dough up like a Swiss roll, as tightly as you can, with the seam at the bottom. With a sharp knife, cut all the way across the centre, exposing the swirls and making sure you leave a couple of centimetres uncut to keep it attached at the very top. You should have what looks like an “A” that has not been crossed. Turn the cut side out so the layers are visible and simply twist the two pieces, one over the other. Pinch the end and then join the two ends to make a circle. Carefully place on the tray – if you lose the circle shape, now is the time to fix it – then cover with a greased sheet of cling film and leave in a warm place to prove for another 30 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 220C.
6. When the crown has doubled in size again, uncover and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. When it is ready, place on a rack to cool.
7. Warm the jam in the microwave, just enough to loosen it, and brush all over the crown for a beautiful sweet sheen. Sprinkle with fresh rosemary and serve.