This is a recipe for a bread famous with my family and friends. It comes with a small story: 10 years ago when I moved to work in Buenos Aires we celebrated a year going out with my girlfriend Carolina (now my wife), and had a fancy dinner in a great Hotel (Alvear Palace) with diamond ring... and all,... Well, the restaurant (Le Bourguiñone) has this wonderful bread with olives... but they wouldn't share the recipe...
It took me about 6 trials to get it really close, I believe the current version of the recipe yields a bread that's as good as the original or better. As I'm not in the restaurant business I'm ready to share the recipe of this tasty bread with the world...
Marcelo's Bread with Olives (a.k.a. Pan Miranda)
1 spoon (large) yeast
1 Kg flour
1/2 cup of olive oil
2 bags (400 grs) of unpitted olives (black or green, I prefer black and bitter)
oregano or cumin or rosemary or your preferred condiment (garlic is awesome for this)
1 whole egg (to paint the bread crust before entering the oven)
2 ice trays worth of ice
Pour the yeast in a large bowl with 1/2 cup of water of warm water, dissolve evenly and let stand for a couple of minutes. Pour in the flour and add water until you get a soft dough, it must be homogeneous and wet, light, easy to stir with a wooden spoon.
Now there are variations. You can let the dough stand in a warm place for a couple of hours if you must absolutely have it today. If you can wait one day (or plan ahead one day) I recommend letting the dough stand for 24 to 36 hours (with a moist clean cloth on top), it will give you a tastier bread with a better, firmer crust and a soft inside, much like French bread. You can even set apart a small amount (1/2 Kg) of dough (poolish) and use it as basis for the dough of your next bread 2 or 3 days down the road.
Now that the dough has stand for a few hours (has a strong smell of yeast), add 2 teaspoons of salt. The olives sliced in four, and the condiment of choice as well as the olive oil. The mix is again easy to stir with a wooden spoon, if it's not... add water, if you add to much water, add flour until you get it right. Stir for ten minutes (until the dough starts making farting noises).
Turn on the oven at maximum temperature, with the heat directed to the center.
Put the dough in your kneading table and add flour until it's easy to handle and doesn't stick to your fingers. Knead the dough lightly for 10 minutes.
Form the breads, in the shape of your choice (a braid gets the most attention). Put them on the oven tray, which was previously covered with butter, flour or aluminum foil.
Put the egg in a teacup, stir it until it looks even, add a little salt and oregano. Paint the bread with this mix using your fingers, this paint will help them get a nice tan when they are fully baked.
Make small parallel slits on top of the bread with a sharp knife. so that the crust will crack along this lines when our bread rises. (Ours? yes our bread... I'm sharing the recipe, so it's ours).
Ok, Put the tray with our bread into the oven, at medium height. In the lower position put a deep tray with all the ice cubes (please be careful and use a large tray so that water doesn't run of the tray, that could put out the oven). We use ice to have a moist atmosphere retarded in time so that the crust stays soft and doesn't fully form until late in the baking process. You can also spray water but opening the oven is not good for the bread.
In 20 or 25 minutes you should move the flames of the oven to the sides so that they start baking the upper crust of our bread. And in 15 to 20 minutes more the bread will be ready. Insert a small stick (like a wooden sushi chopstick or similar) it should come out dry and clean from the center of the bread.
Enjoy Our bread!
Yes you can have it all... Just let me know how you like it, and share with me any interesting variations you discover.