FIVE LOAVES AND TWO FISHES ( Harvest Festival Plaque)
For recipe go to Harvest Festival Bread
METHOD. Take half of the total quantity of made dough. form it lightly into a ball and then proceed to roll it out approximately 12mm (1/2in) thick into an oval shape to fit a baking sheet 330mm x 320mm (12.5in x13in)
Place onto the clean, lightly greased, baking sheet . Dock well all over and wash lightly with water, keep the surface moist to avoid skinning.
Next , using half of the remaining dough, form the border for the base. This can be a single strand of dough or a plaited strand of dough made from 2 or 3 strands. If using a single strand, it should be notched with a razor blade or sharp knife after its final egg wash.
For a 2 strand, divide the dough into 2, roll out each piece long enough to place around the plaque and then twist together
For a three strand plait, divide the dough into 3 and rollout out as long strands, long enough to place around the plaque.
(photo 1 below.)
Place the 3 ends together and commence the plaiting, take the left strand over the centre strand and then the right strand over the centre strand (Photo 2 and 3.) and repeat until completion, (photo 4)
The plait needs to be long enough to go all around the edge of the plaque. Attach to the plaque with water.
Using 3/4 of the remaining dough, divide into 5 to make the loaves.
From each lump of dough pinch off about a third, this will give you 5 bases and 5 tops.
Round up ( make into balls) the pieces of dough, (photo1) making sure you keep the right top with the corresponding bottom.
Place the two pieces together to form the cottage loaf. To ensure they are joined, push a finger down through the middle of the top pushing right to the bottom.
When all five are formed, decide wether you want plain or notched (photo 2,3) and then place them onto the plaque .
Turn on the oven. 225C, 205C fan, 440F,
(Note: turning on the oven too early will increase the room temperature which in turn will make the dough ferment too fast while you are working with it.)
With the remaining dough proceed to make the two fishes.
Mould two pieces of dough into a torpedo shape. (photo 1)
Using a rolling pin, roll out to form an oval (photo 2)
Using a sharp pointed knife or similar, shape the dough into that of a fish (photo 3)
Egg wash the formed shape and then, with a pair of sharp pointed scissors, nick to form the "scales"(photo 4)
Finish with a small piece of currant for the eye. Place on the plaque.
If there is any dough left ,it can be shaped into ears of wheat and added as additional decoration (click thumb nails for detail)
Finally carefully and lightly egg wash the whole plaque making sure there are no unwashed areas. Do not leave puddles of egg as this will cook and spoil the appearance.
Stand for 10 minutes and then place in the oven .
After 20 minutes reduce the oven temperature by 15C, 30F and bake for a further 40 minutes.
Towards the end of this period, check that the plaque is not colouring too much, if it is ,cover with baking paper or foil to protect the high spots.
After 1 hour the plaque should be baked, if it requires further baking, reduce the oven temperature by a further 10C and give it 10 more minutes. We are trying to dry it out without making it too crisp, that way it will have a longer shelf life.
On removal from the oven, leave to stand on the baking tray for at least 5 minutes to allow the plaque to set. Then slide on to a wire cooling tray and allow to cool completely.
To preserve the plaque it can be sprayed with edible varnish. Without the varnish and kept in a dry atmosphere it will keep for a good number of weeks. Dust and mould are the biggest problem.