Sun-dried Tomato and Mozzarella Bread with Olive Oil and Sage

One of the best uses for sun-dried tomatoes is to add flavour. This easily made bread is excellent on a picnic to go with salami or Parma ham and quarters of Little Gem lettuce. It is nicest of all eaten warm, so keep it in the oven until you leave and then wrap in several layers of newspaper. The bread is also good made with feta or goat’s cheese instead of mozzarella.

Ingredients

  • about 12 sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 Italian mozzarella cheese
  • 10-12 fresh sage leaves
  • 350 g/12 oz strong unbleached white flour
  • 1 sachet Easyblend dried yeast
  • 4 teaspoons crushed sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 175-225 ml/6-8 fl oz warm water

Method

Smear a deep 20 cm/8 in round cake tin with olive oil. Slice the sun-dried tomatoes across fairly thinly. Cut the mozzarella cheese into small pieces. Chop the sage leaves finely.

Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and stir in the yeast and salt. Then, using a wooden spoon, stir in the sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella and sage, followed gradually by the olive oil and warm water, adding enough water to form a soft, slightly sticky dough. Using floured hands, gather up the dough and knead lightly on a floured surface for 5-8 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a ball, put it into the cake tin and flatten slightly — it doesn’t matter if the surface is uneven. Using a sharp knife, make a few deep criss-cross lines in the dough. Trickle a little olive oil all over and sprinkle with a little salt. Put the tin into a large plastic bag and fold the bag in under the tin, trapping plenty of air so that the bag is puffed up well above the bread. Leave at room temperature for 1-2 hours, until the dough has risen well.

Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7. Bake the bread for 25-30 minutes, until a rich brown. Turn it out of the tin on to a rack and cool a little. If you have made the bread earlier, reheat it before your picnic.

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