This easy loaf will take you no more than 20 minutes to make and most of that time will be spent getting out the ingredients! A perfect yeast free bread for warm days of spring when asparagus is in season. Serve with some cold meats, cheese and ripe tomatoes for a special al fresco lunch.
Tips: If you don’t have buttermilk to hand you can use the same quantity of milk, but add a tablespoon of lemon juice, or white vinegar, and wait 10 minutes for it to thicken. When cooking asparagus I have realised the easiest way, after trimming the ends (do this by bending the spear until it snaps naturally at the right place) is to stand the spears in a measuring jug or tall mug. Fill the jug two-thirds up the stems with boiling water. Wrap cling film around the mug to form a sealed tent over the spears. Do allow enough room for the steam that will be created. Microwave on full power for 2-3 minutes until the tips are just tender, and the stems are just tender.
100ml olive oil
250g asparagus spears, each cut into 3 pieces
200g self raising flour
1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme (or 2 tsps. of dried)
Handful of pitted olives (green or black).
100g sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
100g gruyere cheese, grated (use cheddar if that’s all you have).
- Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/Gas Mark 5.
- Oil and line a loaf tin (22x10x5cm)
- Cook the asparagus in boiling salted water for about 2 minutes, (see above) and then cool quickly by running under cold water, pat dry.
- Mix the flour and thyme together in a large bowl and season well with salt and pepper.
- Add the eggs, buttermilk and oil, and stir well to make a smooth batter.
- Reserve the asparagus tips and a few olives for the top of the loaf and add the remaining chopped asparagus stems, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and two-thirds of the cheese to the batter and stir thoroughly.
- Pour into the loaf tin.
- Place the reserved asparagus tips and olives on top of the loaf and sprinkle over the rest of the cheese.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes until the loaf feels firm to the touch and is golden and crusty on top.
- Cool in the tin for 5 minutes then turn out to cool on a wire rack.