Bread Bowl Fleetwood Mussels in Lancaster Ale recipe

PUBLISHED: 00:00 02 March 2018

Bread Bowl Fleetwood Mussels in Lancaster Ale

Bread Bowl Fleetwood Mussels in Lancaster Ale


Debby Donnelly-Addison flexes her mussels with this velvety bowl of seafood which is a perfect “tear and share” meal for two, or a hearty supper for one.

‘March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb’, or so the saying goes and with the turbulent spring tides comes some of the most delicious produce that Fleetwood has to offer.

The generations of families who operate at Fleetwood docks work with such speed and precision that the morning catch will be glistening in your fishmonger’s window by the time you’ve finished your breakfast. I collected my mussels from Wesley Fish, a small shop in Southport about to celebrate their 40th year in the business.

All their seafood arrives direct from Fleetwood every morning and, despite being tempted by the vast range of fish they had on offer, I was thrilled to leave with my small paper bag filled with shimmering ebony shells, ready for a delicious meal that evening.

Everyone knows that mussels are best enjoyed in a creamy sauce, mopped up with thick clods of crusty bread, so why not bake a golden, crispy bread bowl to soak up those juices? My no-knead boule is baked using Brow Farms bread flour, which is the first Lancashire grown stone ground whole grain flour to be sold for more than 20 years. Left to ferment overnight, this bread requires very little effort and is perfect for anyone feeling a little nervous about baking a loaf for the first time. The light and silky crumb texture is ideal for soaking up the creamy sauce, which is spiked with the Lancaster Amber Ale used to steam the mussels. This velvety bowl of seafood is a perfect “tear and share” meal for two, or a hearty supper for one.


For the Overnight No-Knead Boule

400g bread flour

8g table salt

1g active yeast

300g water

Extra flour for dusting

For the Mussels in Lancaster Ale

250g fresh mussels

250ml Lancaster Amber Ale

2 large shallots, finely chopped

3 bulbs of garlic, minced

1 tbsp olive oil

2 sprigs fresh thyme

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper

You will need

Deep casserole dish

Cotton or linen tea towel

Method - bread

1: Combine the flour, salt, and yeast in a medium sized mixing bowl. Add the water and stir with a wooden spoon until you have a wet, sticky dough. If the mixture is still a little dry, add more water a teaspoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

2: Cover the bowl using a plate, towel, or cling film, and leave in a draught free place for 12-18 hours whilst the slow-rise fermentation takes place. The resulting dough should have small bubbles on the surface and have almost doubled in size.

3: When the first fermentation is complete, dust your worksurface with a little flour. Scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece if possible: it should have long, thin strands and still be very sticky (from the developed gluten). Dust your hands with a little flour, and work your way around the edges of the dough, tucking in the edges to make it round.

4: Place a tea towel on the worksurface next to the dough. Dust the towel with flour before gently lifting the dough up and placing it onto the centre of the towel. If the top of the dough is still quite tacky, dust with a little extra flour before folding the ends of the towel loosely over the top. Leave in a warm place, out of direct sunlight, for 1-2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.

5: About 30 minutes before the end of the second rise, preheat your oven to 235C/Gas mark 8/215C (fan oven). Place the empty casserole dish in the oven and leave to heat up whilst the bread finishes fermenting.

6: Carefully remove the heated pot from the oven and lift the dough into it. Cover with a lid and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

7: Remove the casserole dish from the oven, tip the boule out on to a wire rack and leave to cool. Using a small bread knife, cut the top off the loaf and hollow out the centre.

Method - mussels

1: Rinse the mussels in cold water and discard any that have opened before cooking. Use a paring knife to remove the beard, then scrub the shells with a kitchen brush.

2: Using a lidded pan, heat the olive oil, then add the minced garlic, chopped shallots, and sprigs of thyme. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and heat gently for 3 minutes, or until the onions and garlic are tender.

3: Pour in the Lancashire ale and increase the heat until it begins to simmer. Add the mussels and cover the pan with a lid. Leave the mussels to steam for 5-10 minutes, stirring intermittently. Once the mussels have opened, remove from the pan and place inside the hollowed boule. Discard any that haven’t opened.

4: Add the butter and mustard to the pan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add a little more salt and pepper if required, and then pour over the mussels. Although it may seem as though you have too much sauce, be sure to use all of it as any remaining liquid will soak into the bread. Serve with a cold glass of Lancashire Ale or white wine.

Debby’s tips:

1: Mussels keep best with the beard still attached. Store in the refrigerator, wrapped in newspaper, and use within two days.

2: January, February, and March are the months when there is most meat on the mussel, before it spawns and turns lean in late spring. It’s always worth buying a few extra March mussels and popping them in the freezer for the summer months.

You can see more of Debby’s work @thebohobaker on Instagram.

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