Saffron olive bread

Chef's secret dish: One meal that is better served cold.
Chef's secret dish: One meal that is better served cold. Photo: William Meppem

As well as a loaf, this dough is great for making rolls or focaccia-style slabs. If your budget doesn't stretch to saffron, leave it out and add two teaspoons of turmeric and the zest of a lemon (preferably un-waxed) with the flour. It's a different flavour to the saffron, but still excellent with the olives


For the ferment

150ml boiling water

1 big pinch of saffron threads, about 30

1one x 7g sachet instant yeast

2 eggs (60g each)

200g white bread flour

For the dough

450g bread flour

2 tsp salt

75g unsalted butter, softened

175g-225g pitted, dry black olives

olive oil for kneading

beaten egg


1. In a large mixing bowl, pour the boiling water onto the saffron and leave for 20 minutes until warm. Whisk in the yeast until dissolved, then beat in the eggs and flour. Leave for an hour until the mixture starts to bubble and rise.

2. In another bowl, add the flour and salt then rub the butter through. Add the olives and flour mixture to the ferment, then mix everything to a soft sticky dough. Leave for 10 minutes. Oil your hands and a patch of worktop and lightly knead the dough on it for just 10 seconds, no more. Shape the dough into a ball, put it back in the bowl, cover and leave for about 90 minutes or until risen by half.

3. Shape the dough into a long loaf, using a little flour if you need to, then place it on a baking tray lined with non-stick paper. Cover with cling-film and leave at room temperature to rise for about an hour, or until risen by about half its volume (not double).

4. Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan forced. Brush the top of the loaf with beaten egg, cut a long slash down the loaf with a sharp blade and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a rich golden brown.

Serve with sliced serrano ham-wrapped chicken fillets for lunch.