- Pre-heat the oven.
- Line a large baking tray with a baking liner or parchment paper.
- Put the flour, yeast, sugar and salt into a large bowl and blend them together.
- Stir in the water.
- Using your hands, gather everything together into a doughy mass.
- Knead the dough until it feels smooth and pliable.
- Divide the dough into three pieces.
- Lightly dust the work surface with flour, put one piece of dough in the middle and sprinkle lightly with flour.
- Roll the dough into a rectangle, the size of your baking tray.
- Cut out a large mushroom shape with a long stalk.
- Gather the dough off-cuts together and roll them into a ball for use later.
- Transfer the dough mushroom onto the baking tray, keeping its mushroom shape.
- Brush water all over the dough.
- Put the second piece of dough on the lightly floured work surface and cut it into 30 equal pieces.
- Roll each piece into a 23cm/9” length.
- Lay the dough lengths onto the mushroom shape to create the stalks of the wheatsheaf.
- Take the third piece of dough and cut it into three pieces.
- Roll each into a long thin cylinder, then cut each one into twenty small lengths which will form the ears of wheat.
- Working inwards from the outer edge quickly press the end of each small length onto the round part of the mushroom shape.
- Using scissors, make several snips into the end of each small dough length to create the impression of grains in an ear of wheat.
- Take the dough off-cuts, and divide them into three pieces.
- Roll each piece into a 25cm/10” length.
- Plait the dough lengths together.
- Brush the middle of the ‘wheat stalks’ with water and lay the plait across them to create the impression of string around the sheaf.
- If you have any remaining dough form it into a mouse, brush the underside with water and place it on the wheatsheaf.
- Beat the egg well and brush it all over the dough.
- Bake immediately for 25-30 minutes.
Preserving the Wheatsheaf
If you plan to keep the wheatsheaf as a decorative item, lower the oven temperature to 140°C, Fan 120°C, 275°F, and bake for a further 3-5 hours. When quite cold you could brush the wheatsheaf with varnish.
200°C, Fan 180°C, 400°F, Gas 6