Cheese, Olive and Buttermilk Herb Bread

Since the weather is so much cooler I am so happy I get to go back baking breads!  I love working with yeasts and kneading the dough.  I truly missed it; although today’s bread is not yeast based bread it’s a real treat.  The recipe came from here (and it is a recipe from Mix & Bake by Belinda Jeffery).  As you can guess from the name, this is a very savory bread perfect with stews, soups or any light entrees. 

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335g (2-1/4 cups) plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
60g (I put about 2/3 cup) freshly grated parmesan
60g ( I put about 2/3 cup)grated cheddar
75g (I put about 1/3 cup)stuffed olives, sliced
1/4 cup snipped chives
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
2 eggs
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
310ml (1-1/4 cups) buttermilk
egg wash (optional), made from 1 egg yolk and 2 teaspoons water
extra thyme sprigs and sea salt, for topping

Preheat your oven to 180′C (350F). Butter a large loaf tin (about 23 x 13 x 6 cm) and either line with buttered baking paper or dust it with flour, then set it aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, pepper and mustard powder into a large bowl. Add both of the cheeses, the olives, chives and thyme and stir them thoroughly together.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, then whisk in the oil and buttermilk until they’re well combined. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk mixture. Stir together until they form a thick, sticky batter. Scrape this into the prepared tin and smooth it out evenly. If you’re using the egg wash, brush it over the top, then sprinkle some small thyme sprigs and sea salt onto the loaf.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a fine skewer inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean – you can almost tell by the tantalizing aroma alone when it’s ready. Remove from the oven and leave the loaf in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack, remove the paper and leave it to cool.

This bread tastes best when it’s still barely warm or at room temperature. If you find you have leftover bread, wrap it tightly and store it in the fridge for up to 3 days. When you want to use it, wrap it loosely in foil and heat it gently in a 150′C (300F) oven. It is still fine for a few more days after that, but is best sliced and toasted.

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I like using fresh herbs, but you only use little compared to what you get, so I ended up drying the left over thyme.  I can always use the dried thyme for future use, yes, in fact Thanksgiving will be perfect!
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My opinion: Very savory and delicious!  This definitely is not a subtle savory, so if you like subtle savory flavor, you can decrease on the spices, but this bread is a great accompaniment to the Spaghetti Squash and Kale Gratin I made.  I am planning on making some vegetable soup some time this week too and this bread will go well with that also. 

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