Cream cheese and olive oil work well together to create a super soft textured bread. The cheese and chives also combine beautifully to produce a lovely flavour that stands out without being overpowering.
Makes: 1 large loaf or 2 medium each with 10 – 12 slices
Time: Hands on: 35 minutes (less with a stand mixer). Proving: 2 hours. Baking: 30 minutes
Level: Easy – don’t be put off by the lengthy explanation below, maybe I’ve gone a bit overboard on the detail.
Equipment: A stand mixer makes it easier and quicker, but not essential. You can bake these on a tray, freeform, as in my previous version. Here, I used lined and greased loaf tins. Another option would be to insert shaped paper liners.
Credits: Based on an original recipe by Paul Hollywood in his excellent book, “100 Great Breads”.
- 500g / 1lb 2oz strong white flour
- 1 tsp salt
- A (7g) sachet of instant dried yeast
- 75ml / 2.5fl oz olive oil
- Approx. 250ml / 9fl oz water
- 125g / 4.5oz cream cheese*
- 3 – 4 Tbsp chives – more if you want
*I used Philadelphia Garlic & Herb for extra flavour. Other flavours are available.
1. Put the flour, salt**, yeast**, olive oil, water and cream cheese into a large bowl. Either mix well with a wooden spoon or let your stand mixer do the work. Add in the chives and continue mixing for a few minutes more.
** Keep the salt and yeast well apart at this stage.
2. If using a stand mixer, knead with the dough hook for 12 – 15 minutes. If by hand, tip the dough out onto a very lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for 15 – 20 minutes (phew!) Either way, the dough needs to be shiny and stretchy.
3. Towards the end of the kneading process I usually oil another large bowl in preparation for the proving. I also finish off the kneading by tossing the ball of dough into the oil then knead for a few more minutes.
4. Put the dough in the oiled bowl, cover* and leave to rise until doubled in volume – about an hour, depending on warmth in the room. (* I use an elasticated shower cap.)
5. Once the dough has risen, tip it out onto a lightly floured surface and knock it back. Fold it over on itself a few times and knead gently. If you want two medium loaves divide the dough into two halves. Shape each piece into a fat sausage with the join underneath and place them in the loaf tins or on the lined baking tray.
6. Place the loaf or loaves inside a large plastic bag, such as a kitchen bin liner, and leave to rise – about another hour.
7. Before the hour is over, turn the oven on to heat up to 220C / Fan 200C / 425F / Gas 7. Place a baking tin on the bottom shelf (it needs sides to hold liquid). Put a baking stone or a tray on the middle shelf.
8. When the dough has risen, dust it with flour and cut slashes on top using a lame or a sharp knife. Put some ice cubes or very cold water in the baking tin and put the loaf or loaves in the oven. Bake for 25 – 35 minutes.
9. When baked, the bread should be well browned and give a hollow sound when tapped with your knuckles. Allow five minutes in the tins (if using) then turn out onto a wire rack to cool fully.