Olive Garlic Halloumi Spelt Bread – Eliopsomi
Although I’m someone who loves experimenting with recipes, I tend to stick to the tried and tested when it comes to bread. However, when the travel company Expedia challenged me to make a Cypriot dish for World on a Plate, olive bread was the first thing I thought of.
Cyprus is one of those places I have been itching to go to for many many years. I still haven’t made it. One of my friends was at art college there and raved about the wonders of the Island. It’s known for its good climate, soil fertility and mouth watering food. High quality wheat, olives, almonds, grapes, lemons and potatoes are all grown there along with an abundance of other vegetables and fruit – sounds like my kind of place. Olive bread, called eliopsomi, is common fare. It may also contain fresh or dried herbs, onions, lemon zest, cheese or, as in my case, garlic.
I took inspiration for the recipe from The Olive and the Caper: adventures in Greek Cooking by Susanna Hoffman. I found the recipe for olive garlic bread all over the internet, but sadly, rarely accredited to the author. As well as adapting the recipe to make it suitable for metric measurements, I decided to use wholemeal spelt as the main flour. I’ve said it before and I’ll no doubt say it again, spelt not only adds additional fibre and a nutty flavour, but is easier on the digestion than modern wheat flours.
Halloumi originates from Cyprus, so I felt I couldn’t really do a recipe that didn’t contain that much loved vegetarian cheese. Halloumi sandwiches are very common there and although they sound absolutely my kind of food, I wanted the bread to accompany another Cypriot dish, turlu, a spiced vegetable stew. With this in mind I decided to add Cypriot halloumi to the bread so we’d be getting some protein in our meal. Of course for a dairy free or vegan version, this can be left out.
Both the bread and stew were delicious and worked brilliantly together to create a very satisfying meal. The bread turned out perfectly, with a good chewy texture and a rich flavour. The next day, I had it toasted for lunch, simply spread with butter – it didn’t need anything else. The day after that, I did exactly the same. No matter that the rain was lashing and the wind was howling, I felt I’d captured a little piece of Cyprus. Now, where’s my plane ticket?
- 300ml warm water
- 1 scant tbsp dried yeast
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 300g wholemeal spelt flour
- 150g strong white flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 60ml olive oil
- 2 large cloves garlic - finely chopped
- 200g Cypriot pitted green olives - roughly chopped
- 100g Cypriot halloumi - grated
- Whisk the sugar and yeast into the water, making sure it's warm, but not hot. Cover and leave for ten minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the remaining ingredients.
- If kneading by hand, place flours and salt into a large bowl, make a well in the centre and gradually add the yeast mixture together with the olive oil, stirring as you go until the mixture comes together to form a dough. Knead for a good ten minutes, adding the olives, garlic and cheese in near the end. Otherwise, throw everything into the bowl of an electric mixer and using the dough hook knead on a low setting for ten minutes.
- Place dough into a floured proving basket or bowl. Cover and leave to rise until nearly doubled in size.
- Turn out of the basket onto a baking tray and slash the top with a sharp knife two or three times.
- Bake at 220℃ for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 200℃ and bake for another 25 minutes or until the bread looks baked and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
Other #WorldonaPlate recipes inspired by Cyprus
Disclosure. I was sent some ingredients and a shopping voucher in order to develop this recipe.