It’s finally spring! At least that’s what my calendar tells me. And it seems to be right. Although the temperatures still climb under 0°C at night, the days are sunny and almost warm. When I was a kid I celebrated spring by planting something. Well, it wasn’t exactly planting. I bought some garden cress seeds, stole some absorbent cotton from the bathroom, put it into a bowl, soaked it with water and added the cress. A couple of days later I had my own fresh edible greens. I guess that most kid gardeners would consider garden cress as the perfect plant for their little window sill garden. It is inexpensive, you don’t need lots of equipment to grow it, you cannot mess it up unless you use boiling water, and you can see some results after only a couple of days. It is a very exiting experience for children and doesn’t require that much patience. If you start your cress garden on Monday, you’ll definitely have some fresh greens for your Sandwich on Friday or Saturday.
Though my childhood now seems to be as far away as the Middle Ages, I can still feel the urge to plant some cress every spring. And so that’s what I did a couple of days ago.
Most of the time I overdo it and after a couple of days I realize that the cress is overtaking the window sill. And even though I adore a sunflower seed spread, cress, tomato, smoked tofu, and cress sandwich, I can only pile a handful of cress onto it. So, what to do? Put it not only onto but also into the bread, I thought. And that was indeed a good idea. The cress adds a peppery note and a hint of green to the bread. Black olives and a handful of fresh basil leaves make this loaf even tastier.
I used German Type 1050 flour, which is medium sifted flour. It is darker and has a higher ash content than white flour. It can be compared to Northern American first clear flour, although it doesn’t have as much protein. Good substitutes are bread flour or white whole wheat flour. If you only have all-purpose flour, that’s totally fine, too.
Olive-Herb Bread (makes one loaf)
200 g T 1050 flour
150 g water
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
All of the sponge
300 g T 1050 flour
200 g water
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
10 g salt
60 g garden cress
handful of basil leaves, chopped
130 g pitted black olives
To make the sponge, combine flour, water, and yeast and knead until a dough forms. Cover and let rest for 2 1/2 hours.
To make the bread dough, combine the sponge, remaining flour, water, yeast, and salt. Knead well for 10 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour. Cover and let sit for an hour or until doubled in size. Add cress, olives, and basil leaves. Knead until well incorporated. Shape into a loaf and transfer to a greased loaf pan. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rest for an hour. Meanwhile preheat oven to 220°C (430°F). Bake bread for 40 to 50 minutes or until the crust is dark brown and the bread sounds hollow when tapped. let cool completely before slicing.