Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Make a Harvest Loaf

It's Harvest Festival at Boy's school tomorrow.  He was ken for us to make a Harvest Loaf to take in as I had made one earlier in the week for the toddler group Harvest morning.  Once you get going it's actually very simple and something children can help with.
Ingredients: 750g strong white flour, 21g instant yeast, 3 tsp salt, 30ml olive oil.  Put all the ingredients into a bowl and add 360ml water.  Mix with your hands for about 3 mins.  Then add a further 120ml water and mix for another couple of minutes.  You will have quite a wet dough.  Turn onto a floured surface and knead for 5-7 mins until the dough is smooth on the surface and feels quite elastic.  Put it back into the bowl, cover and leave for an hour.
Once the dough has doubled in size knead it again for about a minute.  You are now ready to shape it.
First make lots of quite thin wiggly worm shapes.  These will be the stalks of the corn.  Arrange them onto the baking sheet so they are piled up into a bunch.
Then we made some quite fat sausage shapes for the ears of corn and arranged these at one end of the stalks.
Then we made a plait to represent rope tying the corn together.
Then placed the rope around the loaf.
Then we used a pair of scissors to snip into the ears of corn.
It's traditional to put a mouse onto the loaf so show that the harvest was plentiful and that there was spare corn to feed the mice.  We made ours from a ball of dough, a long strip for the tail and two tiny ball for ears.  The eyes are peppercorns.
Then turn the oven on to 180 degrees.  Cover the loaf.  When the oven is hot brush beaten egg all over the loaf.
Then bake for 30-35 mins until it is a lovely golden brown colour.
This is a very traditional loaf to make.  Farmers used to use the first of their harvest to make loaves and donate them to the church in the past but today you will sometimes see loaves like this one being used to decorate churches and schools as part of their harvest display.  Happy Harvest!

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