Allotment bread

Mind to menu: Ollie Moore's allotment bread

by Great British Chefs 30 August 2014

New Great British Chef Ollie Moore of The Black Rat, Winchester, talks us through the process of creating his signature allotment bread.

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Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Most of my ideas for new dishes come to me instinctively based on our surroundings. It doesn’t take a particularly clever chef to walk across the river everyday where there is watercress and crayfish and see that those things can be put together – it’s how nature intended.

The idea of the allotment bread first came to me three or four months ago. It was literally a case of going to our allotment garden and having the curry plant there - I love that because you walk past it and you get a little smell of Madras. So I thought I’d use that with some lavender (lavender is something that I just love – anything from washing powder to shower gel I like to buy lavender!) and our rosemary bush was getting a bit overgrown, too. It was a case of using those three ingredients for a purpose.

It was literally a spur of the moment thing – I brought them all into the kitchen, gave them a good wash, picked them down and added four equal quantities of each to our basic focaccia dough. I proved it overnight and the next day baked it off – as soon as it’s cut open it just smells of the garden and you get a nice, focaccia-style crust. It worked perfectly first time round and we haven’t really needed to tweak it since, though I did go through a stage of putting lots of flowers in it when we had them in the garden over the summer.

For me, the allotment bread sums up the Black Rat style of cooking: we’re taking a basic bread dough and adding to it with things from the allotment, something we’ve grown and looked after. It is clever but you can do it in 15-20 minutes – that is Black Rat. And we can use it in so many ways – we used to order in Panko (breadcrumbs) but now at the end of service we just blitz any leftover allotment bread, dry it out and freeze it. It’s like getting a whole chicken – you use the livers for parfait, the carcass for stocks etc.

We’ve had some great feedback to it on social media over the last few months and breads in general have become a bit of a signature here. At the moment we are losing a lot of the borage… the lavender is dead now, so we need to rethink it.

But I’m looking forward to it coming back next year – when the spring comes and you have all those stunning purple buds on the lavender, the curry plant’s pollinating again, getting that into the bread again will be nice."