It’s been a while since I last blogged here, the beginning of October in fact! I have baked on and off during this 6 month hiatus but not really from the Mary Berry Baking Bible. I’ve also been really uninspired by the recipe numbers I was pulling from my lucky dip pot so a few weeks back I decided instead to have a flick through the book and see what grabbed my attention.
With Ostara / Spring Equinox occurring back on the 20th, I decided I wanted to make something relevant to the holiday and Mushroom and Garlic stuffed Picnic Loaf screamed at me to be made. So I toddled to Tesco for the ingredients I didn’t have in our baking cupboard such as; bread flour, a jar of wild mushrooms and (fresh) yeast and off I went home, and I made this bread the next day on my day off, and what a tinydisaster that ended up being!
Okay so basically, many moons ago, I went to college and did a level one food tech course, where we were taught how to bake breads. I was always told to microwave your part milk part water mixture until it was at room temperature as this is when your yeast will thrive. Too hot – it will die, too cold – it wont activate. So, I did this and stirred in my yeast and set it aside for 10 minutes. Nothing. Nada! What was meant to be happening was little bubbles were meant to be foaming on the surface to indicate my yeast was active, but this did not occur in any of the FOUR attempts / jugs I made. I had one jug in warm water another on top of the oven and the third I had cradled in my hands with the oven door open trying to keep the mixture warm, but not too hot. Madness.
Then, on the fourth attempt I kind of thought fuck it. Not one of these mixes is showing signs of life, I’m just going the throw this yeast mix into my flour and pray something happens. So I did, I did the usual mixing and kneading of the dough by hand, something I didn’t realise I had missed doing over these past 6 years.
I popped the mixture onto my board, placed the bowl over the top and left it as Mary instructed. After 20 minutes I couldn’t help but peak (mainly due to the certainty that this bread was not going to rise and I was wasting my time and life) but to my delight, surprise, possible horror the bread had tripled in size in 20 minutes! The yeast was ALIVE!!!!
Now you may be thinking, to your delight – yes, surprise – yes, horror? Why horror?
Well. I had to take little legs to the doctors meaning I had to leave the bread to prove for around 3 hours? and it had already tripled in size within 20 minutes! So off I went to get ready, came downstairs after an hour and the bread dough was trying to slowly escape under the bowl.
So, I sorted that and off I went. I won’t lie I spent most the journey googling how long you can leave bread to prove for before it goes rank and won’t bake properly anymore, and Paul Hollywood told me (his website not him personally) that I can leave it to prove for up to four hours and it would be fine as long as it was covered and did not form a crust. Get in, there was hope yet.
So few hours later, in the door I wandered joking on about how we could be about to enter the kitchen to the blob from goosebumps taking over the house… and there was half of my bread dough all over the pastry board without any form of cover meaning it had developed a crust!! NOOOOO. I lifted the bowl, and there is the other half of my bread dough, without a crust. Shiiiit…
I quickly got to work kneading and smushing and praying that I could fix this disaster as there was no way I had time to start over, and I think I did if truth be told. I just sort of kneaded and kneaded and kneaded the dough until it all came together again and the ‘crust’ was gone, which isn’t what I was supposed to be doing at this stage as I was only meant to be knocking back the air from the bread. I debated leaving it to rise again, but thought better of it. It was probably already fucked so I may as well just keep riding this train right? So I rolled it out, covered one half of the dough with the wonderful mixture of, 1 jar of wild mushrooms, fresh crushed garlic and parsley and then folded the uncovered dough over on top of the mixture and sealed the edges, and at first it looked a little bit like a calzone pizza but I managed to get a weird bread shape in the end, though it looked NOTHING like a traditional loaf!
I then glazed the top of the loaf with egg wash, and sprinkled sesame seeds, black pepper and parsley over the top before covering it with cling film so that it did not form a crust (again) during its final prove. After, 45 minutes (and two cooked pizza’s later) I popped it in the oven for 20 minutes until it was golden brown in colour.
I was a bit worried as the bread seemed very flat, but after a quick google I think this is normal for this recipe, and it tasted wonderful. Would I make it again? Probably not if truth be told, but I would consider replacing the wild mushrooms with olives and making an olive loaf instead if truth be told.