Sunday, 10 January 2016

let's cook: stuffed bread

Our cooking challenge is off to a strong start this year - with both of us making our stuffed breads in the first week of January. Last year we had four different cook-offs: dips, tart tatin, gnocchi and jam & scones. Let's see if we can better that this year!

I think this one was a good challenge - neither of us have done much bread-making before so it was a bit of a skill test - but also a creative one in terms of deciding on a filling and shaping the bread.

I made a couple of Mediterranean style pesto and sundried tomato mini plaited loaves, and my mum went made a giant plaited bread ring with a Moroccan filling: olives, goats cheese and a spicy onion mixture. Sounds tasty to me.

I used this great recipe from Mediterranealicious as a basis for my bread but made my own pesto for the filling and added some sundried tomatoes. The pesto was super quick. Here's the recipe if you want to try it out.

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Super speedy basil pesto


2 packed cups of fresh basil leaves
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup grated parmesan
¼ cup pine nuts
2 crushed garlic cloves


Put all the ingredients in a food processor and mix.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The recipe above makes enough pesto for the bread, with some left over to use another day (we had it with linguine the following day and it was delicious!)

When it came to making the bread I ran into a bit of difficulty as the dried yeast I had in the cupboard had expired I think - I tried twice and it just would not activate, and my first two batches of dough refused to rise.

I went out and bought some instant yeast sachets though and that did the trick. I left the dough for an hour in a warm place and it rose enough that I was sure the yeast was doing it's job. From the sound of it, my mum's yeast was super active as she said her dough kept growing and growing!

Once the dough and the pesto were ready I rolled out the bread mixture into an A3 sized piece, covered with the pesto and some chopped sundried tomatoes, then rolled it lengthways to create a long tube. I strayed from the recipe instructions here and chopped my rolled up dough in half to make two smaller loaves.

The fun bit was cutting the rolled dough in half lengthways to reveal the filling, then twisting the two halves around each other to make the plait.

I thought it might untwist itself as it baked in the oven, but luckily it came out looking the same shape as when it went in. I really like the outcome here - the shape is really nice and the fact that there is so much filling on display makes it look pretty tempting.

My mum said she got on quite well with her recipe too - which was from a Bake Off book. I think she was a bit suprised by how big it turned out, but it looks like a successful bit of baking, and the flavours sound great! the scores:

We both ended up eating the bread warm from the oven with some baked Camembert (great minds!) Judging by the picture my mum and brother enjoyed theirs over a game of Scrabble.

It's lucky my mum had my brother there as a judge as my dad had two bites and decided he didn't like the flavours (typical!) My mum scored a generous 9/10 from Tim though, with the score being bumped up to 10 because it was served with cheese.

Ben also gave me a very generous mark of 10. I'm wondering now if this is possibly partially due to the cheese too? Either way it was a great result all round - full marks for us both!

Maybe one of the most successful cooking challenges to date?

Next time we'll be making Bakewell tarts.
I think I might do an iced one. Yummy.

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