picnic bread

By Lauren Bravo

Ahh, picnics; the sun in the sky, the grass between your toes, a sandwich in your hands… and half the fillings in your lap. To avoid the shower of ham and pickle down your summer finest, you might want to think about the bread you use for your picnics, and we suggest the muffuletta.

Dating back to 1906, the iconic Italian picnic loaf was invented at the Central Grocery in New Orleans, by Sicilian farmers who specifically needed an efficient way to eat lunch while sat on a crate or barrel.

picnic bread muffuletta

Perfectly portable, a traditional muffuletta is a whole, round loaf of bread, stuffed with layers of salami, olive salad, cheese and ham, cut into wedges and eaten like a magnificent sandwich.

But of course, there are more combinations of fillings to stuff a loaf of bread with than there are sunny days on which to eat it (in the UK at least). We love it with roasted peppers, tapenade and lots of mozzarella, or with leftover chicken, salad and chutney.

You’ll need a round loaf like our trusty, crusty Calabrese, with the top sliced off and most of the soft middle scooped out (save the insides to make croutons, panzanella or bread sauce for your next Sunday roast). Stuff it with tightly-packed layers of filling, replace the bread lid, wrap it in clingfilm and weigh it down with something heavy while it chills overnight.  This “pressing” is the magic part that turns it from a tower of separate fillings into one delicious package of flavours that won’t fall apart when you tuck in.

Jamie’s put his spin on the picnic loaf too, with this ring of bread filled with Parma ham, cheese, egg and basil – ideal if you struggle to choose between a sandwich and a pie.

picnic bread

Another idea for an no-filling-needed sandwich experience is the famous focaccia, topped with moist vegetables like courgette or onion, as well as cheese, olives, herbs and any other delicious additions you can think of. Take the whole loaf with you and slice it up to pass round at your picnic, making fuss-free outdoor eating a piece of cake.

About the author

The Flour Station grew out of the basement of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Restaurant. We soon ran out of space and branched out to our own bakery premises. Not long after that, we set up our first stall at Borough Market and since then we’ve been baking our delicious sourdough breads for top notch café, delis and restaurants across London as well as our weekly market stalls. We’re firm believers in doing things the old fashioned slow way when it comes to making our breads. Each one has a natural yeast starter and the dough is given all the time it needs to develop its wonderful texture and flavour, which may mean the best part of a whole day. Once ready, the dough is divided and shaped by hand and baked in a stone based oven. This intricate process produces a sensational loaf with a good crust, a tasty crumb and a depth of flavour and texture unparalleled in conventional bread. We share our passion for real bread with top chefs and a loyal band of customers who return week after week to our market stalls. We draw inspiration from both when it comes to developing new breads, experimenting with new ingredients and new ideas as well as resurrecting forgotten classic British bakery favourites. Through this blog we hope to share with you the ups and downs, highs and lows, questions and answers that come our way whilst we continue to bake our lovely breads.

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