Who needs toad-in-the-hole when you can have FUNGUS in the hole!
Serves 4 as part of a main meal: try serving with roast butternut squash, spicy beans or lentils, and salad.
IngredientsApproximate quantities, can be adjusted as required:
- 4oz./100g plain flour
- Half a pint/280ml milk
- 2 eggs
- A handful of dried mushrooms, e.g. porcini
- 4 large flat, or about 12 small, fresh mushrooms
- Optional, 1 onion, chopped
- 2 or 3 tablespoons of butter
- Salt and pepper
Soaking the dried mushrooms
- Put the dried mushrooms in a bowl, cover them with boiling water, and leave them to soak for 20–30 minutes.
- At the end of the soaking time, lift the mushrooms out with a slotted spoon.
- Let the soaking liquid settle again, so that any grit sinks to the bottom, then carefully pour off most of the liquid and retain for use as stock, but discard the gritty dregs.
The Yorkshire pudding batterYou can make the Yorkshire pudding batter while the dried mushrooms are soaking.
- Put the flour into a large mixing bowl, and make a well in the centre of the heap of flour.
- Break the two eggs into the well in the middle of the flour — don't start to stir yet — then add three or four tablespoons of milk on top of the eggs.
- Now start beating the mixture until all lumps are gone and you are left with a thick, smooth paste.
- If you have a food processor, you can use that to whisk the flour, eggs and milk together.
If you are doing it manually, I suggest this technique, which has been passed on to me via oral tradition, and which works well:
- Use a metal spoon such as a tablespoon
- Bring the edge of the spoon down into the mixture at a roughly 45° angle, so that the base of the spoon slaps the mixture — this slapping action will eventually help to beat out the lumps.
- Sweep the spoon through the mixture, holding it flat — the edge of the spoon should not touch the base of the bowl very often. (You only need to scrape the edge of the spoon against the bottom of the bowl occasionally, to free up any bits stuck to the bottom.)
- Bring the spoon sweeping back up out of the mixture, once again at a 45° angle — this may flick some of the mixture up into the air (can be messy, it's a good idea to wear an apron, but the point is that you are incorporating air into your mixture by doing this).
- You have now created a sort of U-shape down through the air, into and through the mixture, and back up into the air again.
- Bring your spoon back across to its starting-point — your U-shape has now turned into a loop.
- Keep repeating this action, which is like a vertical circle dipping down into the mixing bowl and then coming back out again.
- Once the dry flour has been incorporated, you can get faster and faster with your vertical circle, because flour will not come flying out of the bowl any more. Instead, you should see big bubbles forming in the mixture.
- Once the mixture has turned into a smooth paste, you can gradually, bit by bit, add more milk to thin it down.
- Carry on adding milk until the mixture is runny but not very thin, like double cream.
- Add salt and pepper to taste
- Now put the mixture aside, e.g. into the fridge, until your mushrooms are ready.
Cooking the mushrooms
- Melt 1 or 2 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan
- If including onion, put this into the pan, and gently fry until translucent
- Add the soaked mushrooms and the fresh mushrooms to the frying pan, and gently cook for 5 minutes.
Assembling and baking
- Grease a medium-sized baking dish or small roasting tin with the remaining butter.
- Spread the cooked mushrooms over the bottom. If you are using four large flat mushrooms, put one into each quarter of the dish, so that when the Fungus in the Hole is cut into pieces, each person gets one big mushroom.
- Pour the Yorkshire pudding batter over the top.
- Bake in a medium-hot oven, about 190°C, for 40 minutes or until the top is golden and the sides of the Yorkshire pudding have slightly drawn away from the sides of the dish.
Serving suggestionsI have successfully served Fungus in the Hole with the following accompaniments:
- Roast butternut squash: cut into quarters lengthways, remove the seeds, rub with olive oil, place in a baking dish, drizzle a little extra olive oil into the hollow where the seeds were, bake for at least an hour — it can go into the oven while you are preparing the Fungus in the Hole.
- Spicy beans or lentils: fry lots of chopped garlic, onions, fresh root ginger if available, and chillis. A quick cheat is now to add a can of refried beans. (I particularly like Marks & Spencers refried beans.) Add some mushroom stock, saved from soaking the dried mushrooms, to bring it to a nice sauce-like consistency. I also like to add some spinach. I microwave it in the bag, then squeeze out the excess water, e.g. using a clean tea-towel, and add to the sauce just before serving.
- Lemony salad: thinly slice tomatoes and lettuce, then squeeze the juice of a fresh lemon over it.