Does it get much better than homemade bread? These homemade breadsticks with olives are delicious and I wasn’t surprised that my kids loved them as all three of them love olives – which is perhaps surprising when you consider the long list of things that they claim not to like.
Olives might seem like an unlikely thing for a child to love. I don’t think I even tried an olive until I was in my late teens yet my kids absolutely love them. Even R, who won’t eat fruit or many vegetables, would gladly eat a whole jar of olives if I let him. Olives are of course a bit salty so I don’t. While writing up this recipe I thought I’d take a look at how the salt levels in olives compare to other salty snacks. In case you’re wondering a 15g serving of olives has more salt than a typical-sized bag of crisps. However, olives are reported to have plenty of health benefits, including high levels of vitamin E so I’ll continue to include them in my kids’ diet – it’s all about balance right?
Did you know that olives are actually a fruit? They’re a bit like tomatoes, in that although they are a fruit they are treated in cooking as a vegetable and so I still consider this to be a good hidden veg recipe and is definitely one that is worth trying if you have a picky eater.
I make a batch of these every so often to add to my freezer stash for serving with soup and putting in lunch boxes. They’re also delicious alongside a mezze style meal with salad, cheese and hummus. I particularly like them when they’re warm straight out of the oven but the kids loved them both warm and cold.
I like to add a little spelt flour when I bake bread. By using three quarters strong white flour and one quarter spelt flour the bread rises well and has a lovely mild wholemeal texture. And I know that my kids are getting a little bit of wholemeal goodness from the spelt when they eat these. Remember that if you use a different type of flour you may need more or less water than I’ve used in the recipe below as absorption levels vary.
It’s also worth mentioning that I make these in a stand mixer. I do enjoy kneading bread but I’m increasingly finding that time to cook and bake is short and using my stand mixer means that I can get on with other exciting jobs like the washing up while the mixer does its work. I have a Sage Scraper Mixer* which I won in a competition a couple of years ago and it’s transformed my baking. I think I’m a bit lazy when I make bread and cakes by hand and the results from the mixer are so much better.
Here’s how to make homemade breadsticks with olives:
- 300g strong white flour
- 100g wholemeal spelt flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 x 7g sachet of instant yeast
- 240ml water plus extra if needed
- 1.5 tbsp olive oil
- 100g black or green pitted olives (or a mix), chopped
- Fit your stand mixer with a dough hook.
- Place the flour, salt, yeast and most of the water into the bowl of your stand mixer. Start mixing on a slow speed. If you need to add a little more water. The dough shouldn't be too sticky.
- Turn the speed to medium and mix for five minutes.
- Add the olive oil and mix for a further 2 minutes.
- Add the chopped olives and mix until combined. You may need to use your hands to get the olives into the dough.
- Transfer to an oiled bowl and cover with a damp tea towel or cling film until doubled in size (around an hour).
- Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
- Tip out onto an oiled work surface and stretch out with your hands into a large rectangle.
- Cut into 12 strips and place on the two baking trays.
- Leave to prove for 30 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (fan)/220°C/gas mark 7.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes until turning golden brown.
- Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
- Can be frozen.
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