serves 8 - 10
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 tsp dried yeast
pinch of sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cups white bread flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/3 cup stoned black olives, roughly chopped
1 tbsp black olive paste
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1. Put half the warm water in a jug. Sprinkle the yeast on top. Add the sugar, mix well and leave to stand for 10 minutes.
2. Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan and fry the onion gently until golden brown.
3. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl with the salt and pepper. Make a well in the centre. Add the yeast mixture, the fried onion (with the oil), the olives, olive paste, herbs and remaining water. Gradually incorporate the flour and mix to a soft dough, adding a little extra water if necessary.
4. Turn the dough on to a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place in a mixing bowl, cover with a damp dish towel and leave in a warm place to rise for about 2 hours until the dough has doubled in bulk. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
5. Turn the dough on to a floured surface and knead again for a few minutes. Shape into a 8 inch round and place on the prepared baking sheet. Using a large sharp knife, make crisscross cuts over the top. Cover and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes until well risen. Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F).
6. Dust the loaf with a little flour. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 200°C (400°F). Bake for 20 minutes more, or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool slightly before serving.
If fresh herbs are not available, use 1 - 2 tsp dried herbs instead. Omit the olives and olive paste and use chopped sun-dried tomatoes and sun-dried tomato paste, for a tasty change.