From a very young age, one of Neven's favourite pastimes was to shadow his mother in the kitchen, watching her cook; his pastime soon became ...
7 tblsp extra-virgin olive oil (plus extra for oiling and drizzling)
1 tsp easy blend dried yeast
450 g strong plain white flour (plus extra for dusting)
1 ¼ tsp sea salt
1 large red onion (halved and cut into slices, keep them attached at the root)
100 g pitted black olives
1 sprig of rosemary, leaves stripped
salt and black pepper
This savoury Italian bread is made much like pizza. Semi sun-dried tomatoes or strips of roasted peppers also work well on top. This dough can be made even more easily in a food mixer.
Oil a 28 x 18 x 4cm (11 x 7 x 1 ½ in) baking tin and line with non-stick baking paper. Mix the yeast, flour and ¼ teaspoon of salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in 225ml (8fl oz) lukewarm water and 5 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix well to form a soft dough, then turn out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place in an oiled mixing bowl, cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knock it back, punching lightly to knock out air bubbles, then knead for another 2–3 minutes. Roll out to a large rectangle about 1cm (1/2 in) in thickness. Place in the prepared tin. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise again for 30 minutes – it should look soft and pillowy.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F/Gas 7). Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a small roasting tin and toss in the red onion. Season with salt and pepper and spread in an even layer, then roast for 15–20 minutes until just tender but not coloured.
Prick the risen dough all over with a fork. Stud with the olives, fan out the red onions on top, then scatter with the rosemary and the rest of the salt, and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Bake for about 30 minutes until risen, cooked through and golden brown. Don’t worry that the onions will have tinged at the edges.
Leave in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool and drizzle with a little extra olive oil to keep the crust soft. Cut into chunks to serve. This is best served warm but also reheats well in a low oven or is fine when cold. To store, allow to cool, wrap in cling film and store in a bread bin for 1–2 days.