There’s a natural progression of phases to go through when you’re under the weather. There’s the initial denial stage with the mantra – “I’m not getting sick, I’m not getting sick, I’m not getting sick”. Realisation soon dawns with an “ohhh bugger” and you immediately try to ‘heal’ it by downing any super-food within reach. The next stage a.k.a accept-you’re-sick-dammit-and-get-on-with-life is all fine and dandy until you hit the slight glitch of not-being-able-to-exercise-do-anything-remotely-active. Sometimes it takes doing said exercise (often during the intermittent period of “woop I’m no longer sweating enough to make my own swimming pool, I must be better!) to realise the sheer stupidity of doing so – running like a 96 year old nana (apologies to any fit 96 year old lasses out there, I’m sure you run more than gracefully) and then having to cling to a fence railing because you’re legs are starting to give way isn’t going to help you recover from a 3-day long fever. In fact it might just make you very nauseous. Cue the next phase: staring listlessly into space contemplating food (and you’re existence, yep we’re being melodramatic). You probably should eat something. Your stomach heaves at the idea. Cue the humble loaf of bread – and it’s metamorphosis into, well, wonder bread.
Home-made bread? Even better. Sure, if you’re feeling lousy, preparing a loaf of fresh bread is probably the very last thing you feel like doing. And it’s not exactly an immediate solution to the nausea, with a wait time of approximately 3 hours. However some other kind soul may feel up to the challenge. Even if the nausea has passed by the time it emerges from the oven, a slice of warm, soft bread smeared with a little salty butter will still do wonders – by keeping up your morale! And, you never know, the nausea could return. Not that we’re wishing that on you, but best be prepared just in case.
Now, you could go for the most simple of loaves – whole-wheat or white to avoid any possible stomach upset. However, a smattering of olives is unlikely to tip that nausea over to a run-to-the-bathroom-get-out-of-my-way-I’m-serious kind of scenario. It really can’t do any harm, unless you passionately hate olives. Then maybe we’re on the wrong track. This is a feel good loaf – the smell, the crispy-crisp crust, the soft inner, studded with salty olives. Light enough to not sit like a rock in the stomach, yet solid enough to settle the worst of the nausea it’ll have you feeling better in no time.
Not that you have to be ill to enjoy Olive Bread, no siree! Aye, it’s splendid on it’s own, however it also works a treat alongside Roasted Capsicum or Tomato Soup or with a simple spread of roasted Mediterranean vegetables. Lastly, don’t let the idea of baking your own bread put your knickers in a twist – it’s simple enough, and being sick is enough discomfort is it not?
Makes 1 small loaf
100g pitted black olives, chopped
250g strong plain flour, plus extra for kneading and dusting
½ tsp salt
1 tsp dried yeast
2 ½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Approximately 125ml warm water
Grease and line a baking tray with baking paper and set aside.
Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and whisk in the yeast, then half of the chopped olives. Make a well in the centre and add the warm water in a steady stream, using a butter knife (and then your hands) to bring the ingredients together to form a soft dough.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about five minutes or until smooth and elastic. Pat the dough into a round and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour.
Set the dough back on the floured surface and knock back, then roll out to form a rectangle about 18cm by 28cm. Sprinkle the rectangle with the remaining chopped olives then roll the dough up tightly, starting from one of the shorter sides. Pinch each end of the roll to seal.
Place, seam side down, on the prepared baking tray and cut a shallow slash down the centre of the loaf with a small sharp knife. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220C. Dust the loaf with a little extra flour and bake for 10 minutes before reducing the temperature to 190C and baking for another 20 minutes or until the loaf is lightly golden brown and sounds hollow when the base is tapped.
Set on a wire rack to cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
Source: Barely adapted from Bread by Anne Sheasby.