A fantastically easy bread to make (no complicated kneading) which is rich and full of tasty things. Very good with soup, or on its own, cut in thick wedges of cheesy, olivey, oniony bready goodness.
9 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped finely
1 and a half lb strong white flour
3 teaspoons oregano, chopped finely
4 tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon green peppercorns (not dried), crushed or chopped
4 oz strong cheddar cheese, chopped roughly
2 oz parmesan, chopped finely
3 oz black olives, stoned and halved
2 envelopes easy-blend yeast (check yeast instructions for correct quantity for amount of flour, it varies)
Fry the chopped onion in about 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over a fairly high heat until very soft and slightly golden. Stir well as you are cooking them. Remove the onions from the pan, and set aside in a bowl to cool a little.
Put the flour into a large mixing bowl, and stir in the salt, oregano, peppercorns, cheddar, olives, tomatoes and half the parmesan. Mix well, then add all but a spoonful or so of the onions.
Put the remaining olive oil into a jug, and add warm water until you have 450 ml of liquid. Pour the liquid slowly into the dry mixture, stirring very well. Add the yeast, and mix well.
Oil two 7-8 inch cake tins generously. Flour your hands and gather up the (very sticky) dough, forming it into two equal sized balls, placing one in each cake tin. Cut a deep cross in each. This may be tricky, as the dough is sticky and will drag--it helps to oil the knife slightly. Sprinkle the surface with the left over onion and the remaining parmesan.
Take a large plastic bag (a bin liner works well) and put the tins inside, puffing it up well over the dough, so that it has plenty of space to rise. Tucking it under the tins to trap the air inside, and leave at room temperature for about two hours so that the dough is well risen. Don't try to rush this by putting them in a much warmer place.
Preheat the oven to 230C (450F, gas mark 8). Remove the plastic bag (obviously) and bake the loaves in the centre of the oven, side by side if possible, for 20 minutes, and then turn the heat down to 200C (400F, gas mark 6) and bake for another 20 minutes or so. The loaves should be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Remove from the tins and allow to cool on a wire rack. Eat warm, if possible.