One of the best things in life is baking your own bread. I love creating dough and watching it transform. When the bread comes out the oven, its fantastic smell fills the whole house (and your neighbourhood) with that wonderful baking bread aroma! Second best things is to eat it of course. This bread recipe is one of my favorites: Fresh herb and Kalamata olive buns!
Another thing that I love doing is growing my own herbs in the garden, like basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary and mint. The past years I have been experimenting with adding a lot more savor (‘herby’) taste to my freshly baked breads and rusks. After a lot of experimenting, failures, disappointments and setbacks, I came to realize that fresh herbs are very nice for baking bread, but fresh basil and mint (or spear mint) don’t do well because they have a lot of moisture.
Photo: Toni Brown
Thyme, rosemary and dill
For this recipe we have used a combination of thyme, rosemary and dill, but you could use whatever herbs you love of course! If you have to use dried herbs instead of fresh herbs, you must use half the amount of the fresh herbs; otherwise the taste can become bitter and the smell too intense.
Photo: Toni Brown
Next to herbs the dough of these small breads is mixed with Kalamata olives. Often our guests are asking us about olives, and even more often they pick them up from the olive trees and try them. It is fun to look at their faces when they do it! Olives are too bitter to be eaten right off the tree, so you can imagine their faces.
Raw olives don’t taste at all like the ones that are cured. There are thousands of processing methods that depend upon the area where they grow the variety of the olives and most important the desired taste, texture and colour. The colour of an olive is not necessarily related to its state of maturity. Many olives start off green and turn black when fully ripe. Other olive varieties start off green and remain green when fully ripe.
Nutty earth taste
The Kalamata olives that are used in this recipe are of protected name origin. They are prepared in brine made of water, salt, and red wine vinegar, which mellows their bitter bite and softens the flesh. After that the Kalamata olives are kept in olive oil and brine, which gives them the nutty earth taste and makes them full of the flavour that characterizes them. Together with the herbs, the Kalamata olives give this bread an amazing taste.
The secret: Olive oil
The biggest secret to baking the best bread however is fantastic – tasting olive oil. Since you have to use quite a lot, the bread really takes on the flavour. I use my own olive oil produced with the olives from my farm, but there are many great (preferably Greek) olive oils to be found. Now let’s start making Fresh herb and Kalamata olive buns by preparing the beautiful dough!
Divide the dough into eight equal portions and roll each portion into a ball.
Baking Fresh herb and Kalamata olive buns
Place the rolls on an oiled oven tray and set aside for 10 minutes to rise. Lightly brush them with a little water and dust with extra flour. Bake the rolls for 20 minutes or until they are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on base.
Serve the Fresh herb and Kalamata olive buns warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!
Photography: Annette Spaan