Baking Sundays

homemade bagels

I think I’m slowly getting the hang of this baking lark: a good oven and digital weighing scale work wonders. I’m trying to bake something every Sunday to take into work on Monday morning — I think my colleagues are happy being guinea pigs! Above are this week’s effort, bagels from this great recipe – and below some yummy olive breadsticks using a twist on the same basic recipe.

Olive bread

I got the idea for these breadsticks in aforementioned local coffee shop, Bodega 50. They were proudly displayed on the counter with a ‘warning: addictive’ sign — and indeed they were, to the extent that I had a little go at recreating them the very same evening, after devouring one with my coffee (an oddly pleasing combination). Mine weren’t quite as good as Bodega’s – and didn’t come with a side of delicious flat white – but I’d definitely make them again. The perfect treat for someone like me who’s more into savoury than sweet bites.

Mix a 7g sachet of dried yeast with equal parts milk, warm water and olive oil (about 200ml in total) and a teaspoon of sugar. Whisk and leave it to bubble away. Mix 450g strong white bread flour and a few grinds of salt together and add the wet mix to dry, combining with a spoon then your hands. You’ll probably need a bit of extra warm water to make it bind: the dough should be fairly firm and not sticky.

Knead for as long as you can be bothered — at least 5 mins, 10 is better. Smear with olive oil, cover in clingfilm and leave somewhere warm for an hour – doubled in size, you know the deal.

Throw in a handful of roughly chopped juicy green olives, preferably the nice deli kind in olive oil – mine had peppers and mushrooms in too – some crumbled feta too if you feel like it. Mash all that into the springy dough, then tease chunks of the mixture into batons and pop on baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. I got about 10 short, fat sticks out of my dough.

Drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with rock salt (optional – I like it salty) and bake in a 200 degree oven for 15-20 mins, until they’ve gone attractively brown and sound hollow when tapped underneath. Try to resist eating them all when oven-fresh.


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