Jul 29th, 2017
I made a rather nice lunch on Saturday. I’ve become a bit of a fan of different breads – so this was my take on a stuffed plait.
Make a basic white bread dough with 700g flour and prove until doubled in size (you could make a yeast sponge to get it started off if you felt fancy).
While the dough is rising – roughly chop a large bunch of spring onions with a big handful of black olives. Grate about 200g of cheese (a Swiss type is nice for this dish) and finely chop a packet of Parma ham. Mix together in a bowl.
Divide the dough into four pieces and cover the spares with clingfilm to stop them drying out. Roll out the first piece to a 50cm by 10cm rectangle and spread with a tsp of tomato puree – avoiding the back 1cm. Spread with a quarter of the filling mix, and tightly roll up the dough along the long end to make a 50cm sausage. Pinch the join all the way along so that it is properly sealed, then roll the sausage with your hands (gently – this is the fun part) until it is 80cm long and the same thickness all the way down. Repeat with the other three strands.
Make a four strand plait with the four rolls. Seal the end of all four to the worksurface and spread right out. Then working quite tightly – put the extreme left strand under the two middle ones and bring it back over one of the ones you just went under. Straighten everything out, then take the right hand strand under the two middle ones and back over one of the ones you just went under (there are lots of videos of this on the Internet if I am not explaining well). Repeat until you get to the end of the dough – then squidge the ends together and tuck in to make a neat finish. I’ve discovered with these plaits that it is very important to get the strands the same size and even thickness, and also to keep the plaiting tight at the top, as the tendency (mine at least) is for it to get thinner and tighter as you get towards the end.
Heat the oven to fan 180C.
Grease a large sheet of greaseproof paper and place on a large baking sheet. Oil a small ovenproof bowl and place upside down in the middle. Carefully lift the plait around it, squidge the ends together and cover with clingfilm. Leave at room temperature for about 3/4 of an hour – you don’t want it to rise too far as it will lose its definition. This was just before I put mine in the oven.
Put in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. Then turn down the oven to 160C. Cook for a further 30 minutes – then remove from the oven, carefully lift the circular plait off the bowl and remove the bowl. Turn the plait upside down, and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. You really want to make sure it is done and sounds very hollow on the bottom – if in doubt, give an extra ten minutes or so.
Serve with the same bowl turned the right way up in the middle (it will fit of course) and filled with dip. I used aoli and this went well with the homemade tomato soup I served the bread with. Really stupidly I forgot to take a photo of the finished article until we had eaten most of it. Believe me it tasted good though.