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 idea 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]

Ingredients:

  • 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

Preparation:

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.

Begin to assemble the loaf: place the bread bowl on a baking tray and spread the goat’s cheese evenly on the base, then top with the leeks. Pour the eggs and cream into the bread bowl in three stages, waiting a few minutes each time before adding more. Once all the custard is added, carefully transfer to the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350°F and bake for a further 25-35 minutes until the custard is set. Check the custard is cooked by inserting a skewer into the middle; if it comes out wet, give it another 5-10 minutes. Leave it to cool for 45 minutes to an hour. It should look rather like a quiche, and you can slice it up to serve it in just the same way.


Source: Gail’s Artisan Bakery Cookbook by Roy Levy and Gail Mejia [Ebury Press, 2015]