This recipe comes from Gail’s Artisan Bread. Roy Levy and Gail Mejia wrote this cookbook based on their bakery experiences in London. The intent was to provide great [aka French quality] bread in a town that was not famous for its bread baking. The first store opened in 2005 and now there are over 20. The chain is, as always, a bakery but the “bread” ideas there are elevated. This book has ideas from breakfast to brunch to dinner.
Yes, bread as dinner. Take this main dish as an example. You start with a road loaf of bread and transform it into a meal of leek and goat cheese. It can serve as an appetizer, with little pieces cut away, or make big slices for a main dish of resounding flavor.
Leek and Goat’s Cheese Picnic Loaf
Yield: serves 6 [more for apps]
- 1 round loaf of bread, 10 inches in diameter – any kind you like
- 1 garlic clove, halved
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 4 leeks, finely sliced, dark leaves discarded
- 100ml olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt, plus extra to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, plus extra to taste
- 5 sprigs of thyme, leaves only, chopped
- 2 eggs
- 150ml heavy cream
- 250g soft, fresh goat’s cheese, crumbled
Peel, halve, and then thinly slice the onion from stem to root end.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare the bread bowl. Slice across the loaf of bread to remove the upper third, then use your hands to pull out as much of the middle of the remaining loaf as you can, creating a crusty bowl. You won’t need this excavated bread for this recipe, so set it aside to make breadcrumbs.
Bake the bread bowl for 10 minutes, then, once it’s cool enough to handle, gently rub the cut sides of garlic around the inside of the loaf. Coat the inside with mustard – use the back of a spoon or, even better, a pastry brush, to help you spread it evenly. Set the hollowed-out loaf aside and increase the oven temperature to 400°F.
To make the filling, toss the leeks with the olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme and roast them for 30 minutes until meltingly soft. Leave to cool, then drain off any excess oil. In a separate jug, make the custard by whisking together the eggs and cream, then season well with salt and pepper.