Tree Bread Centrepiece – GBBO Showstopper Challenge (Week 3)

img_4460Ok, so let me start by addressing the fact that GBBO is no longer going to be on BBC and Mel & Sue are leaving and I’m going to have to endure ad breaks in between the Mary Berry innuendos and steely Paul Hollywood glares. I’m not ok with this. *cries in corner with the BBC*

Anyways, back to my showstopper bake along challenge. Following last weeks ‘gingerbread story’, and my attempt at building a biscuit Hogwarts Castle, this weeks episode challenge the bakers to make a savoury bread plait centrepiece as their showstopper.

Ugh.

Now, I may absolutely looooove baking, but I’ve never been much of a bread baker. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made my fair share of focaccia’s, brioche’s, and even a few sourdough loaves from my pet sourdough starter Alan (R.I.P *tear*) over the years, but I wouldn’t consider myself an expert. It’s one of those things that can be affected by sooooo many different factors (temperature, flour, time, moisture, proving, yeast activity, extra ingredients etc.) that it’s kinda more like nurturing than baking. There are plenty crazy ‘bread whisperers’ out there that just understand bread, but I am not one of them. Nevertheless, a challenge is a challenge.

This week the bakers were asked to make their savoury bread plait centrepiece to the following criteria:

  • must use 3 flours
  • any shape/size
  • 4 hours

img_4443Ok, so I know last week I said I’d try to do something a little less complicated for the next challenge… but when they said bread centrepiece my immediate thought was ‘I’M GOING TO MAKE A STANDING TREE!’ I know, I know, ‘wtf?’ … but hear me out.

Now, I’d definitely say I have a soft spot for nature. As you may know (because I’m CONSTANTLY telling people), my surname is Carvalho which means ‘oak’ in Portuguese (hence the ‘acorns’ in Acorns & Custard!), and as a result I’ve become quite obsessed with finding out the symbolism of plants/trees over the years. I mean, I love that oaks represent strength, endurance, stability, wisdom, and to me, family, because then being a Carvalho just makes me seem so much cooler than I actually am! But yeah, I love earthy themes and acorns and nature… so my immediate thought was to make a tree. Full of my own little hidden meanings.

I figured I’d make the ‘roots’ with a white rye bread filled with all the seeds. Because well, you find seeds in the ground.

Then for the ‘trunk’ I thought I’d go with a dark rye bread filled with the woody flavour of chestnuts paired with figs (grows on a tree, symbolises prosperity, and is constantly mentioned in various religions).

For the ‘branches’ I figured I’d make an olive and herb bread, because then I could ‘extend and olive branch’ and I would be the Queen of Puns. *smug face emoji*

Before taking on the challenge I drew out what I wanted to make, and even practised my design/plaiting with some plasticine because you can never be too prepared.

I also practised baking with rye flour, which I’m glad I did because my first batch were awful! However, after some tweaking I managed to get a decent bread.

Here’s how I got on…

img_4299First I started with the base (or the ‘roots’) which was the Multi-Seed Bread. I first weighed out the flours, seeds, and the salt and yeast into a large bowl, making sure the yeast and salt weren’t touching.

img_4302Oh, and the olive oil.

img_4303I then gradually poured in the warm water, mixing until it came together as a dough. (You may not need all of the water.) I tipped this onto a lightly floured surface and kneaded for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. I rolled this into a ball, placed in a lightly oiled bowl, covered, and left to prove in the fridge overnight. (Yeah, I don’t have one of those fancy GBBO proving drawers… and I tend to prefer leaving bread to prove slower for a better flavour!)

img_4354I then started on the Fig, Chestnut and Black Pepper dough for the ‘trunk’.

img_4308As before, I weighed out the dry ingredients into a large bowl. ( The flours, salt, pepper, dark muscavado sugar, and the yeast – making sure the yeast and salt wasn’t touching!)

img_4313(This photo is from my first attempt at the rye bread where I dissolved the sugar into the water instead… but in my final recipe I just added it with the dry ingredients too!)

img_4316I gradually added the water till it came together as a dough. I then kneaded this for 5 minutes on a lightly floured surface, before placing in a clean lightly oiled bowl, covering and leaving to prove in the fridge overnight also.

img_4320Then the final dough was for the Olive and Herb ‘branches’.

img_4324You know the drill by now. Add the dry ingredients to a bowl, add the olive oil (in this case 50ml!), then gradually add the water till it comes together as a dough. Knead for 5 minutes, then cover and leave to prove in the fridge with it’s other dough friends overnight.

img_4328img_4416Once all the dough had proved and risen to double the size I started to get the plaits going. I took the multi-seed dough first and I knocked it back before tipping it out onto a lightly floured surface. I then divided the dough into 5 pieces, and then each piece into half. I rolled each of these into 2 long sausages, and then plaited as follows:

I then repeated this with the 4 other pieces of dough to get 5 pointed plaits.

img_4428I lay the 5 plaits on a lined baking tray pointing outwards like the petals of a flower. I also placed a round metal cookie cutter in the centre with some scrunched up foil in the middle.

img_4430With the risen dark rye dough, I knocked this back, then flattened into a large rectangle on a lightly floured surface.

img_4330I then roughly chopped the dried figs into small equal sized pieces.

img_4332And then the same to the chestnuts.

img_4433I scattered these onto the dough rectangle before folding and kneading the figs and chestnuts into the dough. When I felt like these were evenly distributed, I sectioned the dough into 5 pieces.

img_4434I then cut each section into 3 pieces and rolled them into long sausages. I then did a simple 3 strand plait and pinched the ends to seal. You will end up with 5 thickish plaits.

img_4436Using a clean empty tin can, I attempted to twist the plaits like I’d planned with the plasticine. However, I didn’t quite realise that having small bits in the dough would make it quite susceptible to breaking. So instead of doing the fancy weave/twist thing around the tin can, I ended up just draping them along the sides. In a way it did look more like a trunk, but it’s definitely something I’d work on.

I left this whole structure to prove for a second time of 30 minutes, before brushing the entire thing with beaten egg and sprinkling seeds on the multi-seeded bread plaits. I baked this for about 40 minutes at 200°C until golden brown.

img_4397With the risen olive and herb dough, I knocked this back and also flattened it out onto a lightly floured surface. I then made the green olive tapenade.

img_4337I did this by blitzing up green olive, a garlic clove, a squeeze of lemon juice, a handful of basil leaves, some black pepper and some olive oil.

img_4342 img_4347img_4404I spooned 3 tablespoons of the tapenade onto the dough, as well as another handful of basil leaves (roughly chopped). I folded/kneaded this into the dough until evenly distributed.

img_4405I separated the dough into 15 pieces, and turned each of these into a thin 3 strand plait.

img_4408img_4409I lay these on a lined baking tray, with strips of foil underneath to shape them into the different branch shapes. I left this to prove for 30 minutes before brushing with beaten egg and baking for 30 minutes at 200°C until golden brown.

Once cooled, I used toothpicks to secure the branches to the trunk to form my tree.

img_4457

Overall…

How long did it take? Ok, so this weekend I couldn’t do it all at once as my dad also needed the kitchen to prep food for a family BBQ. Disadvantages of having to use a family kitchen, but it was a goooood BBQ! 😀 However, I did keep note of when I stopped and started again, and collectively it came to roughly 5hrs and 30mins. Again, that’s taking an hour into account for taking photos/washing up in between. Also, whilst I may have done my first prove for 2 hours, I’ve only counted it as 1 because unlike the GBBO bakers, I dont have a fancy proving drawer to help me speed things up! And as I said before I don’t like the idea of hurrying bread!

What worked? The flavour combo’s. I mean, I did choose flavours that I enjoy, but I was particularly chuffed with how the multi-seed bread tasted!

What didn’t work? As mentioned above, my first attempt with the rye flours didn’t go expectedly. However, I decided to use half and half rye flour and strong white and it did work well in the end. I also wasn’t the happiest with how the tree looked. Ideally I would have had a longer trunk so it looked more like a tree rather than some evil ‘devil bread’. My nana’s words.

Things to improve if I were to take this recipe to the tent? Make it look like an actual tree? I’d probably have practiced making the structure a lot more.

*****

Tree Bread Centrepiece – GBBO Showstopper Challenge (Week 3)
Author: Acorns & Custard
Ingredients
  • Multi-Seed Bread
  • 250g strong white flour
  • 250g white rye flour
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 sachet of fast action yeast (7g)
  • 100g mixed roasted seeds, plus extra for sprinkling on top
  • 1tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1tbsp caraway seeds
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 300ml warm water
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Fig, Chestnut & Black Pepper Bread
  • 250g strong white flour
  • 250g dark rye flour
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 sachet of fast action yeast (7g)
  • 1 heaped tbsp dark muscavado sugar
  • 1tbsp coarse ground black pepper
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 300ml warm water
  • 150g dried figs
  • 100g chestnuts, cooked
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Olive & Herb Bread
  • 500g strong white flour
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 sachet of fast action yeast (7g)
  • 50ml olive oil
  • 250ml warm water
  • 100g pitted green olives
  • 1 garlic clove
  • fresh basil
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 egg, beaten
Instructions
For the Multi-Seed Bread:
  1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  2. Weigh out the flours and all the seeds into a large bowl. Add the salt and the yeast to opposite sides of the bowl, making sure they do not touch each other.
  3. Add the olive oil to the bowl.
  4. Gradually add the warm water to the bowl, mixing everything until if comes together as a dough. (You may not need all of the water.)
  5. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes (or using a stand mixer and dough hook).
  6. Roll into a ball, place into a clean lightly oiled bowl and cover.
  7. Leave to prove in a warm place for 2 hours, or in a fridge overnight.
  8. Once risen to double the size, knock back the dough and tip out onto a lightly floured surface.
  9. Roll and shape to whatever you fancy, and place on a lined baking tray.
  10. Leave to prove for another 30mins – 1 hour until doubled in size once again.
  11. Brush with beaten egg, then sprinkle on some extra seeds.
  12. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown all over. (It should sound hollow when tapped underneath!)
For the Fig, Chestnut & Black Pepper Bread:
  1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  2. Weigh out the flours and black pepper into a large bowl. Add the salt and the yeast to opposite sides of the bowl, making sure they do not touch each other.
  3. Add the olive oil to the bowl.
  4. Gradually add the warm water to the bowl, mixing everything until if comes together as a dough. (You may not need all of the water.)
  5. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes (or using a stand mixer and dough hook).
  6. Roll into a ball, place into a clean lightly oiled bowl and cover.
  7. Leave to prove in a warm place for 2 hours, or in a fridge overnight.
  8. Roughly chop the dried figs and cooked chestnuts to similar sized pieces and set aside.
  9. Once the dough has risen to double the size, knock back the dough and tip out onto a lightly floured surface.
  10. Flatten into a large rectangle then sprinkle the chopped figs and chestnuts on top. Fold into the dough until evenly distributed.
  11. Roll and shape to whatever you fancy, and place on a lined baking tray.
  12. Leave to prove for another 30mins – 1 hour until doubled in size once again.
  13. Brush with beaten egg then bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown all over. (It should sound hollow when tapped underneath!)
For the Olive & Herb Bread:
  1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  2. Weigh out the flours into a large bowl. Add the salt and the yeast to opposite sides of the bowl, making sure they do not touch each other.
  3. Add the olive oil to the bowl.
  4. Gradually add the warm water to the bowl, mixing everything until if comes together as a dough. (You may not need all of the water.)
  5. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes (or using a stand mixer and dough hook).
  6. Roll into a ball, place into a clean lightly oiled bowl and cover.
  7. Leave to prove in a warm place for 2 hours, or in a fridge overnight.
  8. Prepare the green olive tapenade by blitzing up the olives, garlic clove, lemon juice, some black pepper, a handful of the basil leaves and some olive oil to loosen. Set aside.
  9. Roughly chop up another large handful of basil leaves and set aside too.
  10. Once the dough has risen to double the size, knock back the dough and tip out onto a lightly floured surface.
  11. Flatten into a large rectangle then sprinkle the chopped basil and 3 tablespoons of the tapenade. Fold into the dough until evenly distributed. (If the dough becomes too wet add a little bit of flour. But as little as possible!)
  12. Roll and shape to whatever you fancy, and place on a lined baking tray.
  13. Leave to prove for another 30mins – 1 hour until doubled in size once again.
  14. Brush with beaten egg then bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown all over. (It should sound hollow when tapped underneath!)

 

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