Take Off from the Bake Off: Picnic Loaf Showstopper

Its that time of year again when baking takes over the nation and supermarkets run out of peculiar ingredients/utensils due to the ‘Bake Off Effect’. Its simple economics really, supply and demand; people can’t get enough cake and the UK runs short of glace cherries.

In honour of Mary Berry and the silver fox Mr Hollywood I am putting together a few posts as the series progresses (admittedly I am already rather late, but I have been ‘out of office’ for a week or so). The posts will offer low fructose versions of popular bakes to demonstrate that you can still eat cake whilst reducing the white stuff! Naturally i have to start with a showstopper…

The stuffed picnic loaf. Okay, so its not as beautiful as Martha’s sunflower, but its beautiful on the inside (thats what they all say)! The loaf is perfect for transporting and can be made for an outing the day before, plus its delicious and pretty darn healthy. Also, it may look like its complex to put together but trust me its straightforward – although allowing the bread to proof twice over takes a little time and patience. So here it is, the showstopper from my bread week!:


FYI I used Paul Hollywood’s white cob recipe (although I made it round!)

Ingredients Serves 6-8


  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10g instant yeast
  • 30g unsalted butter, softened
  • 320ml warm water
  • olive oil for kneading


  • 4 tbsp aubergine (or any) pesto
  • 2 courgettes, sliced in 4 lengthways
  • 3 mixed colour peppers, cut into quarters
  • 6 slices parma ham (optional)
  • 250g mozzarella, sliced
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • handful basil leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste



  1. Tip the flour into a mixing bowl and add the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl. Add the butter and ¾ of the water, mix with your hands. Slowly add more water until a rough dough is formed (make sure its not too sticky)
  2. Cover a clean surface with a drop of oil and  knead the dough for 5 minutes or until soft
  3. Put the dough into a oiled bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave it to rise in a warm place for an hour
  4. Place the dough on a floured surface and knock the air out. Now shape it into a ball.
  5. Put the dough on a baking tray lined with baking paper, cover with a plastic bag and let it prove again for 1 hour
  6. Turn your oven to 230°C and put a roasting tray with water in the bottom (for steam creation)
  7. Once ready, dust your dough with some flour and then slash 1cm deep with a knife to make a cross. Put your bread into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Leave your cob to cool


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place all the vegetables on a baking tray and drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. place the veg in the oven and roast for 15 minutes
  2. Cut the top off the loaf to create a lid and scoop out the soft bread leaving an edge of around 3cm so the shell isn’t too thin.
  3. Place half of the removed inner bread in a food processor and pulse to make breadcrumbs
  4. Mix the oil, vinegar, breadcrumbs and garlic. Mix with the vegetables and leave to stand for an hour so that the vegetables and breadcrumbs soak up the juices
  5. Take the hollowed out loaf and spread the pesto over the base. Layer first with half the courgettes, then half the peppers, then mozzaralla, then parma ham, then the remaining peppers and courgette. Add basil between the layers
  6. Put the lid on, wrap tightly with cling film and place in the fridge overnight
  7. Slice the loaf and serve as part of a delicious picnic!

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