I've been waiting for a suitably hot and sunny day to make this picnic loaf. I had visions of us tucking into slices whilst sitting on the warm grass. Pah! It was becoming excruciatingly clear that my wish for such a scenario was unlikely to be fulfilled any time soon, so I'd best bite the bullet and just get on with it!
My first challenge was to locate a jar of wild mushrooms in oil. We needed to visit the supermarket in town, so it was added to the list. I had never heard of mushrooms in oil before, but I imagined it would be stocked alongside jars of olives. Neil went to visit his granny while I pushed Isaac around in the trolley stopping every once in a while to pluck what was needed from the shelves. Isaac seems to associate shopping with singing; every time we go he breaks into song. It is very cute to start with, and passers-by compliment him on his lovely voice. This serves only to encourage him and, before long, he reaches an ear shattering crescendo. I look forward to embarrassing him when he is a surly teenager! Despite the distractions, I carried out a hunt for the jar of mushrooms in oil. I hunted high, I hunted low. Once Neil returned he joined the search. We found lots of questionable things in oil, but not a mushroom. There was only one thing for it; buy some fresh mushrooms, shove them in oil and hope for the best!
By the time we had arrived home it was evening and too late to make a start on the picnic loaf. I did, however, find an appropriate sized empty jar and filled it with freshly sliced mushrooms and olive oil. The result wasn't very appealing to the eye. It looked as though I was pickling something vile for a science project!!
The following morning I was lucky enough to enjoy a lie in while Neil took Isaac to the park. I sat up in bed and read a chapter of my book. What bliss! As I wanted the loaf to be ready for lunch time, I decided to head downstairs before having a shower. Wrapped in my dressing gown and sporting a fetching finger in socket hairstyle, I padded around the kitchen gathering up the necessary ingredients and mixing bowl. Before I did anything else I tipped the mushrooms from the jar and into a sieve. I collected the drained oil into a small bowl as it would be put to use later.
I weighed a good quantity of white bread flour into the mixing bowl, swiftly followed by a teaspoonful of both salt and yeast. That was the dry ingredients taken care of, so I was ready to add the wet. After pouring in the warm water I added a few tablespoonfuls of mushroomy oil. Mary mentions how wet and sticky the resulting mixture should be. Typically, my dough was as dry as a bone! It was hard to bring it all together and I wondered if I should perhaps add more water or oil. Thankfully I chose to leave well alone as, after a little kneading on the worktop, the dough became smooth and just slightly sticky. It was easy peasy to work with and required no extra flour. After a ten minute workout on my flabby biceps my kneading work was done. Next, I simply drizzled a little more of the reserved oil into the mixing bowl and rolled the ball of dough around it. Rather unusually, I placed the oily dough back onto the worktop, turned the bowl upside down and placed it over the top. While the dough hopefully doubled in size, I waddled back up the stairs to enjoy a long shower.
Two hours later and the dough was suitably puffed up; it was time to move on to the next stage. The mushrooms were already sliced and drained so all that was left to add to the filling was a potent amount of crushed garlic, a good handful of chopped fresh parsley and a little seasoning. I wasn't instructed to give the dough another knead. I simply rolled it into an oblong shape on my largest baking tray. I laid a trail of filling along the longest side of dough then folded it in half, making sure that I left a border of mushroomy filling on show. A quick egg glaze, followed by a sprinkle of sesame seeds, and it was ready to have another proving session. I turned on the oven to preheat and left the covered dough nearby. On my return, some forty minutes later, I was left disappointed as the dough hadn't bothered to rise much at all. I hoped it would inflate a little in the oven!
Mary says it is hard to judge when the bread is cooked through due to the moist filling. I found my picnic loaf took the full suggested cooking time. The bread was golden brown, firm to the touch and reeked of garlic! Before transferring it to the wire rack to cool, I brushed over some of the reserved mushroomy olive oil. The oil was quickly absorbed by the thirsty bread, but it left behind an attractive shine. Although Mary suggests leaving the bread to cool I didn't fancy cold mushrooms, so I cut generous slices whilst the loaf was still warm. Neil and I found it hard to transport our slices from plate to mouth. A great deal of filling insisted on falling out! I absolutely adored the crisp richly flavoured bread. It reminded me of foccacia, which happens to be a real favourite of mine. I admit that I wasn't particularly enamoured of the filling. I do not like the texture of mushrooms so I found it difficult to chew! I would have preferred some red onion and cheese instead. As for the garlic, well, there was a LOT of it. Certainly not the thing to eat before a dental appointment! Neil loves mushrooms and garlic so his portion didn't last long. However, he didn't think it made for a great picnic loaf as it was so messy to eat!
This is another recipe which relies heavily on personal taste. Next time I make it I will add my own choice of filling!
|Couldn't fit it all on one plate!!|