What is Provençal Bread?
Provençal Bread is a popular snack served with pre dinner drinks, or apéro, as they are often referred to. If you are invited for drinks to a French household, apéros can last for several hours before dinner, so it's always advisable to soak up any alcoholic beverages with little bites of food. This recipe certainly does the trick.
Of course, this dish is not just for apéros. Slice up the loaves and serve at a buffet, picnic or even a lunchbox treat. The kids can help make this too!
My Provençal Bread is known in French as a cake salé or gateaux salé, because it actually resembles a cake cooked in a loaf tin. Please don't be fooled as this recipe is packed full of Mediterranean flavours which will whisk you off to the sun-drenched south of France at any time of the year!
What's in Provençal Bread?
This recipe doesn't require any special ingredients and most of them may already be in your larder. When a dish is termed Provençal, it's usually because it contains onions, tomatoes, garlic, peppers and perhaps courgettes or aubergines, (or zucchini and eggplant if you prefer!).
To get a rich Mediterranean flavour I've used sun dried tomatoes in oil, but you could just use the semi dried ones in packets. If you have a glut of tomatoes in the garden this summer you can easily make your own Sun dried tomatoes by roasting them in a slow oven. I've also used green pitted olives for their tangy flavour, (mine are from a jar), finely sliced spring onions, and smoked bacon lardons. Of course, you can use any type of bacon you want or substitute cooked ham. My recipe also includes Parmesan cheese which is used widely in France because I wanted the cheese flavour without weighing down the loaf. You could use a Gruyère cheese instead. The best bit is that you only need all purpose self raising flour.
Thyme is used a lot in French cuisine but I tend to steer away from dried thyme as it tends to be quite woody. I prefer to use fresh thyme and strip the leaves off the stem and then chop them.
How to Make Provençal Bread.
This recipe is extremely easy to make and best of all there is no kneading or proving.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and grease 3 small loaf tins or 1 500 ml tin.
Start by frying the lardons or bacon in a pan over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until browned. I find that there is no need to add any oil to the pan. In fact, I normally line a sieve with kitchen paper and drain the lardons of any excess fat. Tip the lardons onto a chopping board and chop them into smaller pieces. It's easier to do this when the lardons are cooked and, if you leave the pieces too large it makes it difficult to cut the loaf.
Grate the Parmesan, slice the olives into rings and chop the tomatoes into small pieces. Finely slice the spring onions.
In a large bowl add the flour. Make a well in the centre and add the eggs. Beat together and pour in the melted butter and milk. Mix well.
Stir in the onions, tomatoes, olives, lardons, cheese and thyme. Pour the mixture into the loaf tins.
Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. It will look like all the liquid is coming to the surface but all of the liquid will be absorbed.
Let them cool in the tins for a few minutes then turn out onto a rack to cool.
For a vegetarian version of this dish simply omit the ham. You could add some chopped red pepper instead for any of the ingredients. Chopped shallots or red onion would make a change from the spring onions too. Try adding some finely chopped chillies or chopped artichokes in oil for a different flavour.
If you are not a fan of thyme, oregano would work well and I tend to use the rule of a tablespoon of fresh herbs or 1 teaspoon of dried if you don't have any fresh ones.
Other light bite recipes
- Ham and Cheese Palmiers
- Quiche Lorraine
- Baked Arancini
- Baked Halloumi Fries
- Turkey and Pork Sausage Rolls
- Vegetable and Mozzarella Tart
- Roasted Sweet Potato and Goat Cheese Tart
- Roasted Asparagus Tart
- Simple Stromboli
- Loaded Potato Skins
- Sticky Bourbon Ribs
- Baked Garlic Mushrooms
- 200 g flour self raising
- 100 g butter melted
- 3 eggs
- 1 tbsp milk
- 50 g green olives
- 200 g smoked bacon pieces or lardons
- 30 g spring onions
- 50 g sun dried tomatoes
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme finely chopped
- 45 g Parmesan grated
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and grease 3 small loaf tins or 1 500 ml tin.
- Start by frying the lardons or bacon in a pan over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until browned. Tip the lardons onto a chopping board and chop them into smaller pieces.
- Grate the Parmesan, slice the olives into rings and chop the tomatoes into small pieces. Finely slice the spring onions.
- In a large bowl add the flour. Make a well in the centre and add the eggs. Beat together and pour in the melted butter and milk. Mix well.
- Stir in the onions, tomatoes, olives, lardons, cheese and thyme.
- Pour the mixture into the loaf tins and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
- Let them cool in the tins for a few minutes then turn out onto a rack to cool.
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