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Leek and Goat’s Cheese Picnic Loaf

A vegetarian picnic loaf recipe with a duo of leek and goat's cheese. Ideal for an outdoor lunch, the loaf is seasoned with garlic, Dijon mustard and thyme.

From the book


This is a slightly zany, totally delicious idea for a picnic dish that makes a great alternative to sandwiches. It turns a hollowed-out loaf into a bread bowl, which is then filled like a quiche with a rich custard and plenty of fillings. Here, we used our French Dark Sourdough (see p.40 of the Gail’s cookbook for recipe). You can easily mix the fillings up to suit your tastes – just don’t forget to pack a good serrated knife for cutting and serving.

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1 round loaf of bread, 20-25cm in diameter - any kind you like
1 garlic clove, halved
2 tsp Dijon mustard
4 leeks, finely sliced, dark leaves discarded
100ml olive oil
½ tsp salt, plus extra to taste
½ tsp black pepper, plus extra to taste
5 sprigs of thyme, leaves only, chopped
2 eggs
150ml double cream
250g soft, fresh goat’s cheese, crumbled


Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. 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 200°C/gas mark 6.

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 170°C/ gas mark 3 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.

As long as you stick to the same measurements for the savoury custard (the eggs and cream), anything goes – think of your favourite quiche and reinvent it as a picnic bread pie.


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