Olive, Herb and Parmesan loaf – by Nadette Mifsud

Ingredients:

  • Butter for greasing
  • 75g stuffed olives
  • 75g pimentos (bottled red peppers)
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp chives finely chopped
  • 125g parmesan, grated
  • 350g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp each salt and black pepper
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 300ml buttermilk or plain yoghurt
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • Egg wash made with 1 egg and a little cold water, beaten
  • Springs of thyme, slices of pimento and flakes of sea salt for topping

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Butter one loaf pan and either line it with greaseproof paper or lightly dust it with flour.

2. Cut the olives and the pimentos into slices. Strip the thyme leaves off their stalks and snip the chives into small pieces. Grate the parmesan.

3. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pepper and the mustard powder together into a large bowl.

4. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl. Whisk the buttermilk or yoghurt in a jug with the olive oil, then add them to the eggs and beat together.

5. Mix the olives, pimentos, herbs and cheese into the flour mixture. Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk mixture and stir until you achieve a thick, sticky batter.

6. Use a spatula to scrape the mixture into the prepared loaf pan.

7. Smooth the top of the loaf and paint with egg wash. Decorate with extra springs of thyme and slices of pimento. Scatter with flakes of sea salt. Bake the loaf in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until the top is risen and golden, and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

8. Cool the loaf in the pan for at least 10 minutes and then turn it onto a rack to finish cooling. Slice and serve.
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