Updated: Jan 31, 2019
There are certain combinations that just work – no theories, no educating the palate or explaining the concept – they just work. For me that is bread and olives...throw in some rosemary and we have the holy trinity!
On our holidays in France no baguette would make it home from the bakers with ‘le quignon’ (the pointed end) still intact, someone would snuffle it and it was usually me. Just plain, that crunchy, caramelised quignon tasted magical, that one mouthful seemed to contain the concentrated essence of baguette!
These crisp little sticks remind me of those stolen quignons and the olives and rosemary just add a savoury, umami hit that will make you want to eat more and more. They make the perfect accompaniment to pre-dinner drinks, but we like to make a meal out of them and regularly enjoy dipping them into an oozy baked Camembert, studded with garlic and thyme and drizzled with a little honey.
500g Strong White Bread Flour
200g Pitted Black Olives a la Grecque
8g Instant Yeast
3 Sprigs Rosemary (leaves picked and chopped)
50g Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Flour for dusting
In a KitchenAid or a large bowl add the flour, salt, yeast and water and mix on a low speed (1-2) for five minutes. Now add the olive oil and chopped rosemary and continue to mix for two more minutes. Finally add the olives and mix for a further 1-2 minutes, the longer you mix the more the olives will break up - I like to keep them quite chunky. The dough should look smooth, stretchy and well homogenised. Scrape any dough off the dough hook, cover the bowl with a plate, tea towel or sheet of Clingfilm and allow to proof at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours or until the dough is lifting the cover off the bowl.
Line two large baking sheets with baking parchment.
Generously flour your work surface and then tip the dough out, being careful not to tear it too much. It will be wet and sticky, so dust the top of it before using your fingers to gently coax it into a rectangle. You will be cutting this into strips, so make the rectangle as tall as you want your sticks to be. Using a dough scraper or pizza wheel, cut the dough into strips around an inch wide, roll them gently in the flour giving them a little twist to create some interesting patterns. Place them on to the prepared baking sheets approximately an inch apart. This recipe should yield around 12-15 sticks.
Cover with a tea towel and leave to proof at room temperature for 30 minutes. In the meantime, pre-heat your oven to 220c.
Bake the bread sticks for 12 to 18 minutes, you want them to have some nice colour on the crust, but still be fluffy inside. You can always break one open after 12 minutes to see if it's done.
Once cooked, remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool before serving. If you are preparing in advance, reheat the sticks for 5 minutes at 180c so they are crisp and warm.
Leave a 250g Camembert in it's wooden box with the lid removed. Using a sharp knife, stab around 10 holes in the top and stud each hole with a few thyme leaves and a slice of garlic. Drizzle with a good squeeze of honey and season with a little black pepper. Bake at 180c for 10 to 15 minutes or until soft and gooey in middle.