So as promised in yesterday’s blog, I will now give you the recipe for the Picnic Loaf which I made over the weekend. I got this recipe out of book Bread Making by Ruth Clemens. She makes everything really quite simple and you can see her blog over here. This recipe is not on her blog, but I am it is her recipe! There is also a cheats way to make it, which I will share at the end of the blog!
Recipe for Picnic Plait:
100g (3 1/2oz) strong white bread flour
2tsp fast action dry yeast
125ml/125g (4 1/2fl oz / 4 1/2 oz) water, cold.
200g (7oz) strong white bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp caster (superfine) sugar
1 large egg
125 g (4 1/2 oz) (4-5) slices of thick cut roast ham (I used thin sliced ham and about 10 slices and it was fine!)
75g (2 3/4 oz) cherry tomatoes quartered (I used normal vine tomatoes and just sliced them and it was fine!)
75 g (2 3/4 oz) mozzarella (I used cheddar grated and it was fine!)
Small handful of basil leaves (or chives or other herb – your choice).
Tip: You can make up your own filling for this recipe to suit your own taste, so if you are vegetarian, then you don’t need the ham. All you need to remember is to balance the dry ingredients with the wet ones, otherwise you will end up with a soggy dough.
Mix together the preferment ingredients in a bowl and cover with cling film and allow to develop for at least 4 hours or overnight in a cool kitchen or in the fridge. Once developed the preferment should be bubbly and have increased in volume. My fridge is quite cold so it didn’t develop as well as perhaps it should’ve done, all I did was left out of the fridge for about and 1 hour and it developed nicely, so don’t worry if it doesn’t look like it is working!
Add all dough ingredients to the pre-ferment and mix it into a rough dough. Tip out of the bowl and then knead it on a smooth work surface for about 10 minutes until smooth. Transfer the dough to a lightly oil bowl (I used olive oil), cover with cling film or a shower cap and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.
After kneading and about to rest for 1 1/2 hours.
Once the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a work surface (there is no need to oil or flour the surface to prevent it from sticking as it will be a little oily from the bowl). Gently roll it out into a 30cm x 30cm square (I didn’t manage to do this so it was a bit oblong, but that is fine!). Then gently press a finger at the bottom edge of the dough to mark the square or oblong into thirds.
You now need to fill the plait, so in the middle section which you have marked out, you need to use half the ham or filling of your choice to cover this section (before I laid down the ham, I actually put a layer of homemade chilli sauce, you could use ketchup or pesto or bbq sauce if you wanted, or leave it plain!) then scatter over the tomatoes, cheese and basil leaves (or whatever herbs you are using) before covering with the sliced ham. It should now look something like this –
Middle Section Filled
You now need to make vertical cuts at the top and bottom of the dough so that the central sections form flaps that will be folded in later. Now make diagonal cuts at a 45 degree angle from the top corner of the dough to the filling on each side. The should be about 2.5cm (1 inch) apart. Cut away the two triangles at the very top and the bottom of each side. It should look something like this –
Plaits cut and triangles removed.
It is now ready to be plaited. Fold the flaps at the top and the bottom down over the filling. Then take the top strip of the dough from the left and fold it diagonally over the filling. Then fold in the strip from the right and overlap. Repeat the plaiting all the way down, one from the left one from the right and you should end up with something looking similar to this –
The finished plaited loaf waiting to prove.
Carry on plaiting until all down and once finished tuck the straps underneath the loaf (I must admit that I had put slightly too much filling so it didn’t quite end up going all the way round to seal in the filling). Once this is done and you are happy with it (don’t worry if there are slight gaps, this is fine and doesn’t affect the finished product!) Gently pick it up and transfer the loaf to a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, use both hands to support the plait otherwise it is liable to break up. Looking like this –
Ready for final prove.
You then cover the plait with a clean dish towel and place it in a warm spot to puff and double in size (I left mine for about 30 mins, to be honest, it probably could’ve been left for longer, but if it looks like it has risen and doubled in size then you are ready to go!) Preheat your oven to 180 oC(fan)/200oC/400oF/Gas Mark 6. When the plait has risen brush all over with beaten egg and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes until golden all over. (I chose to use the normal oven without the fan as I didn’t want the paper blowing everywhere!). Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
You should hopefully have something which looks like this –
As you can see, I used the left over triangle to make a little snack with some cheese and chilli sauce!
As my plaits weren’t completely sealed, some of my cheese did melt out, but to be honest, it didn’t detract from the flavour as there was still some cheese in there and it didn’t affect the integrity of the bake. Once it has cooled completely you can then cover with a tea towel and take it on your picnic where you can wow your guests by cutting it open in front of them!
It should hopefully look like this inside –
Sliced and ready to be eaten!
I do hope that you enjoy making this – it really is not a difficult as it appears and the end result is amazing! I will definitely be making it again!
As promised, below is a link for a really simple picnic loaf where you can just essentially buy the bread already made and use a variety of fillings. Please note that I haven’t tried this recipe but am sharing it with you to give you an option.
I took this loaf recipe from Jacqueline Meldrum on her blog . Click here for the recipe for the stuffed picnic loaf option.
I will confess to not having made this, but I thought you all would appreciate an option for those days when you are not in the mood t bake!
Happy baking and have a good week.