A few years ago I organized a gourmet mushrooming event that included a limousine ride to a known mushrooming spot on the coast, complete with en route champagne and scones. A renowned mushroom expert from the Sonoma County Myclelogical Society was on hand to ensure safe picking. A wonderful local chef agreed to develop a mushroom oriented menu and, the necessary wine was selected by a local expert.
Since I was organizing the event I had no opportunity to go on the outing. I stayed back at the kitchen with the chef and did prep work. The entire event went over extremely well. The chef did a demo of one of her dishes. The mushroom expert gave an inspired talk that included increasingly drunken questions from the delighted guests. The meal was wonderful and the wine flowed on and on. I do love mushrooms, but I have to say that I was stunned by the variety that were picked that day and I longed to sauté, soup and otherwise prepare and eat them all.
But I’m a baker now and one thing that has been in my mind since I started this venture was the development of a mushroom bread. I thought it would be kind of sexy and unusual too if it sort of looked like a mushroom which is why I chose to use soup cans instead of standard loaf pans. The following recipe and images are from the first attempt and I have to say it myself – it is AMAZING!
I must warn you that the cost of wild mushrooms can be extraordinary so I’ve offered the alternative of using white button mushrooms, which are not as flavorful but are affordable. You should also know that this is a two day process. Good bread takes time.
4.5 cups bread flour
2.5 cups water
2 tsp salt
½ tsp instant yeast
¼ pound chopped wild/button or crimini mushrooms
1 head roasted garlic (do this the day before you make the batter, or early enough so that it is cool by the time you begin.)
1/4 pound Swiss cheese cut into ¼ inch pieces (this goes in on day two)
Equipment you will need: Standing mixer (you can mix this by hand as well), spatula, dough scraper (you really, really need one of these with ciabatta dough or any loose dough. They're about $4 and worth every penny-picture below), and three soup cans, labels removed and well rinsed and dried, spray oil, small pan to hold water in the bottom of the oven.
Making the batter: Measure dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add water and turn mixer on low. In one to two minutes when all the ingredients are incorporated, add the mushrooms and garlic (squeeze garlic cloves out of head and leave whole). Continue mixing for about three to four minutes or until you see strands of gluten stretching around the bowl. Using a spatula, scrape the dough into a plastic container and cover securely. Leave out in cool place (no more than 65 degrees) for at least 18 hours. (I leave it for 24 which works great for me). DO NOT ADD THE CHEESE YET!
Chopped White Buttom Mushrooms
Set the oven at 375 degrees.
Working the dough: Flour your working surface thoroughly and pour out the dough. Sprinkle more flour on top of the puddle of bread (and yes, it will be very puddily). Add the cheese and, using the dough scraper and your hands, fold the dough several times incorporating the cheese. Round up the dough and divide it into three roughly equal pieces.
Baking the bread: Spray the inside of each soup can thoroughly with the spray oil. Using the dough scrapper, scoop up section of dough and place in the cans and place on baking sheet.
Pour half a cup of water into the pan you will place in the bottom of the oven (this creates steam that helps create the crust). Dust the top of the loaves with a little flour and place in the oven.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until golden brown.
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Tap the can to loosen the bread (you may need a butter knife to loosen the sides) and remove it from the can.
Voila! Mushroom bread.