I love making breads, and even though the temptation has been there to use a bread maker there is nothing as wonderful as getting your hands in there and really feeling the dough between your fingers! Kneading the dough is relaxing for me and I don't think of it as a chore at all. It really is the most satisfying thing, knowing that in a few hours you will have a lovely aromatic bread fresh from the oven all warm and just crying out for butter to be slathered all over it!
My mum made wonderful breads and I regret not showing any interest in the process growing up– my brother and sisters did enjoy the process of eating them though! When I had my own family those traditions came back to me and even though my mum was no longer with us in body she was definitely with us in spirit and I taught myself how to make her lovely breads.
As was the case with women from her generation there were no measurements, just a little of this and a little of that! The breads turned out every time. This bread is a Cypriot bread and as is usual for breads made from Cyprus mastiki and mechlebe are used. These gives the breads their unique flavour and aromas. You can get these at any greek bakeries or middle eastern food stores.
Pinch of mastiki
Pinch of mehlebe
4 cups of plain flour,plus extra for dusting.
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/4 cup of warm water
For the filling.
Big handful of black olives, don't use the ones without the pit as they have no flavour.I use the greek ones that are smaller and have a oily wrinkled appearance.
1 onion, sliced.
Handful of fresh mint, chopped.
olive oil for drizzling. Salt and pepper.
In a pestle and mortar grind the mastiki and mechlebe with a little salt until you have a smooth powder. In a large bowl add the flour, salt, yeast, olive oil, and water. Lightly mix and to this add the mastiki and mechlebe. Tip onto the table and knead until you get a nice smooth dough. This will take anywhere from 5 minutes to 15 minutes. Lightly oil the bowl and return the dough back to it. Cover with a tea towel and let rest for 1 hour.
Pit the olives and add the onion and mint along with a drizzle of olive oil. Season with pepper. If the olives are salty you will not need any salt. Combine in a bowl.
After the dough has rested tip onto a flour dusted surface. Punch the dough down and roll out into a 1/4 inch sheet. It should end up looking like a large oval. Drizzle the olive oil and spread over. Add the olive mixture and do the same making sure not to go too near the edges. Roll lengthways and form into a rough spiral. Place onto a baking sheet and cover once more to allow to rest for 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. After the 45 minutes is up put the bread into the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until golden. You can tell when it is ready if you tap the bottom, it should sound hollow.
This is a firm favourite in our house and hopefully it will be yours as well! Enjoy!