… as you know, The Viking and I make a regular summer pilgrimage to the Spanish island of Mallorca and for many years we’ve tended to stick to the simple life. We stay in my aunt’s beautiful apartment and whilst we go for long drives into the beautiful villages in the mountains we tend to keep it quite basic as this is a proper break for us and relaxing means getting into a groove of doing nothing. It’s actually quite a skill. Neither of us are ‘lay by the pool’ type of people, in fact generally I can think of nothing worse than a pool surrounded by sun-loungers with other peoples sweaty bodies lying too close to mine (unless i’ve instigated it of course…) and so perfecting the act of nothing to do doesn’t come easy but the routine of a few lengthy games of scrabble, sitting in a cafe by the sea, listening to the sound of the world spin by is an ideal scenario for us… if we’re clever this can actually last all day between a few strokes in the sea and more cafe con leche than you can imagine is healthy that by the time the coffee turns into vodka, lime and soda we’re more relaxed than we could ever be… follow this with some gorgeous food and you could prick me with a fork because I am done…
pa amb oli with homemade mallorcan rustic rye bread
we basically ate plates of this nearly every night instead of an actual meal… like many peasant dishes it was inexpensive but superbly easy and many people order it with layers of cheese and iberico ham laid on top but with The Viking being a vegetarian we would go for a mixture of the cheese, grilled vegetables and tortilla options and they were so good… an amazing starter for sharing with large groups but they are also very much like a pizza so would work as a main course too and there are just so many options of toppings to chose from… rye bread is also very low in gluten. It’s not quite gluten-free but for some people it may be a nice alternative to high-gluten breads…
for the rustic rye bread
a type of rustic rye bread is the traditional bread used for this dish but I simply couldn’t find an authenticated recipe for the bread we ate or the bread used for pa am oli, all the information I could find was that the dish uses a ‘rustic mallorcan country rye bread’ so this is what I made. As usual i’ve used my favoured ‘low-knead’ method as this is how I feel confident making bread but feel free to use any method of your choice, the recipe is the same… I have to say this bread is spectacular and tastes very much how I remember the bread tasted in Pollenca.
this is enough for two loaves, simply half the amounts for one loaf but then as I always say, why make one when two is just as easy and delivers double the points!
400g strong white bread flour
400g rye flour or wholemeal rye flour as it is sometimes known
3 teaspoons fact action dried yeast
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons caster sugar
600 ml water
olive oil to knead
place all the dry ingredients into a bowl and stir together, then add the water and bring together with a rubber spatula until you have a sticky shaggy mess – cover with a tea towel and set aside for 10 minutes
after 10 minutes, drizzle a little oil onto your work surface, rub around with your hand and then using your oiled hand lift the shaggy mess from the bowl and place it onto your oiled surface
drizzle a little more oil into the bowl and rub this around the inside of the bowl with your oiled hand and set aside
now knead the dough 10 times and then place it back into the oiled bowl, covered with a tea towel, for another 10 minutes
repeat this 2 more times, each time you will feel the dough getting softer and silkier and it will begin the puff out too
after the last time, place the dough back into the bowl and stretch cling film over the top of the bowl and set aside for at least an hour or until the dough has doubled in size
after an hour pre-heat your oven to 220C or as hot as it will go and place an oven proof pan in the bottom of the oven
oil your work surface and then scoop out the risen dough onto the oil, you want to knock it back with your knuckles and fold it over envelope-style a few times and then, if making two loaves, cut it in half and shape each half into a ball and set aside on a baking tray lined with parchment, for another 30 minutes
spritz each loaf with water, then sprinkle on a little rye flour and rub gently with your hand. Slash each one with a sharp knife. Quickly open the oven and pour a little cold water into the tray in the oven and then place in the loaves and bake in the oven for 10 minutes on 220C followed by 20 minutes on 180C. They will be done when they are risen and golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom
set aside on a wire rack to cool
for the toppings
any selection of fresh vegetables such as courgettes, beef tomatoes, red peppers or aubergine
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
2 extra beef tomatoes – very ripe
a traditional mallorcan or spanish cheese such as iberico or manchego – if you can’t get hold of this try a nutty cheddar or strong double gloucester
slice your vegetables quite thickly and then set aside – halve one of your tomatoes
in a large bowl pour in two tablespoons olive oil, a selection of fresh torn herbs such as rosemary, thyme and oregano, salt and pepper
place the cut veg into the bowl and smoosh around with your hands until the veg are nicely coated
place a griddle pan on the heat until smoking hot, turn down the heat to medium and then carefully and relatively quickly griddle your veg… they only need a couple of minutes on each side. They need a little crunch.
slice the bread into medium slices and grill on both sides
slice a clove of garlic in half and rub the hot toast with the garlic on one side, then taking you ripe tomato, cut that in half and rub it on the garlic-rubbed side of toast. Do this quite firmly until the tomato breaks apart. I used roughly
a quarter beef tomato on each slice of bread
drizzle each slice with olive oil and then layer the toppings of your choice onto each slice – it could be simpler
Finally this dish is off the Karen from Lavender and Lovage and her wonderful Cooking With Herbs challenge.
eat and of course, enjoy!