Time for another recipe that I usually quickly flick past as it takes up two pages. Because it takes up two pages I’d assumed it must be difficult and time-consuming!
I had been looking for a jar of wild mushrooms for ages in the shops, but had never had any luck until last week. I could find lots of tins of mushrooms preserved in brine, but no wild mushrooms in oil. However, these wild mushrooms caught my eye the other day and luckily they were in oil. I admit they did have a few other ingredients, herbs, onion etc, but I had come to the conclusion that no matter how hard I looked, I wasn’t going to find exactly what was required and that these would have to do.
The jar of mushrooms were tipped into a sieve and the oil drained off. Don’t throw the oil away you need it later! I could quite easily have eaten the mushrooms as they were, they were so pretty too.
It was then time to make the dough. Into a bowl I weighed out 350g strong white flour and added to this 1 level tsp salt and 1 level tsp yeast. The final ingredients for the dough were 200ml warm water and 2 tbsp of the drained oil from the mushrooms. I’ve been making quite a lot of bread recently and really enjoy it so I wasn’t deterred when I read that this should make a sticky dough and would be hard to work at first. My dough, however, didn’t appear to be that sticky it was quite the reverse and it took a little while for me to incorporate all the flour to make a dough! The dough was turned out onto a board onto which I had put a little of the oil as I find kneading the dough on oil easier to do than on flour (by kneading on flour you are adding more flour to your bread which will make it drier and heavier). Mary says to knead the bread for about 10 minutes after which time it should be nice and soft. I think my dough was at this stage after about 5 minutes.
Mary leaves her dough on the board after rolling it in some oil and covering it with the bowl. I prefer to leave mine in the bowl, so the bowl was wiped out and a little of the mushroom oil brushed around the inside. The dough was placed inside and covered with clingfilm. The dough was then to be left for 2 hours for it to double in size. It was such a wet and miserable day on Saturday that the dough took more than 2 hours to double in size and I actually went out with the dog for a long walk and into town to do a bit of shopping before I carried out with the next step, so I think in total my dough was probably left for around 4 hours!
Before I turned the dough out I decided to mix the ‘filling’ together, so I tipped the mushrooms into another bowl and to this I added a good handful of freshly chopped parsley leaves, together with 3 crushed garlic cloves and some freshly ground black pepper and salt. These were given a quick stir to combine them all together.
The dough was turned out and shaped into an oval (there was no knocking back required). It was placed onto a large baking tray and Mary says to roll the dough out in an oval until it measured approximately 33 x 23 cm. My rolling-pin was too large to roll the dough out very much as it was a lot bigger than my baking tray and with the raised edges on the tray I couldn’t get to my dough! I actually found it easier to stretch the dough out with my hands, it was rather like making a base for a pizza.
The mushroom mixture was then spread over half of the dough from one long end to the other, keeping it within 1cm of the edge. The other half of the dough was folded over the top of the mushrooms, leaving a narrow border of the mushroom mixture showing.
An egg was lightly beaten together with a generous pinch of salt and brushed over the top of the dough. To finish the top was sprinkled with sesame seeds and they it was popped into a bag and left in a warm place to prove for around 30-45 minutes – or until it had doubled in size.
The oven was put on to preheat at Fan 180°C. Into the oven went the loaf for 15-20 minutes. Mary states that due to the filling it’s difficult to tell exactly when the bread is ready, so timing is the best indication. I had a quick look after 15 minutes and it looked lovely, but wasn’t quite the golden brown I wanted, so it was left in for another 5 minutes. After this time it was a lovely golden brown so I removed it from the oven. It then had to be transferred onto the cooling rack. I must admit I was a bit worried about this as I thought the bread might be slightly soggy on the bottom due to the mushrooms, but I was surprised at how firm it was and how easy it was to get it off the baking tray.
The last thing to do was to brush the bread liberally with the mushroom oil that had been put to one side. This gave the loaf a lovely shine. It should then be left to cool…
The smell was wonderful, mushrooms and garlic, yum, it was no good I decided the bread needed to be eaten warm, so having been into town earlier on to buy some cheese, prawns, squid etc (we’d decided this would all go well with the bread, a lovely tapas style evening) we all dived in. The bread was absolutely gorgeous. It was lovely and crusty on the outside and so tasty on the inside. It certainly went down very well, it reminded me very much of Focaccia bread and I think that would probably be the best way of describing it. Both my daughter and husband enjoyed it – my son was out so he didn’t actually have any (I don’t think he would have liked it any way, he’s too fussy and not that keen on mushrooms).
I actually had a couple of slices toasted the next day, it tasted just as good then, if not better. Looking back it’s not actually that time-consuming it’s just the same as making a loaf of bread really. I think I would make this again – perhaps when the weather gets better we may as it says in the heading, take it on a picnic – I think it was robust enough to survive the journey!