Here’s a loaf with a beautiful soft and airy crumb and a crunchy crust. Both the crumb and crust are loaded with flavour.
Makes: Two medium sized loaves
Time: About an hour + rising/proving time
Equipment: If you have a stand mixer, using the dough hook makes it easier, but it’s fine without.
Credits: Adapted from a recipe in the BBC Good Food book: “Easy Baking Recipes”
- 350g strong wholemeal flour
- 150g strong white flour + more for dusting
- A teaspoon of salt
- 7g easy-bake dried yeast (A sachet)
- 20g butter, melted
- 1 large red onion, cut into small pieces
- 1 tbsp olive oil or sunflower oil
- 1 egg, beaten
- 60g Red Leicester cheese
NB You could use other cheeses, such as cheddar. Likewise, white onions will be fine too. I just like the idea of red cheese and red onions. It has a sort of “poetic feel” about it.
1. In a large bowl (i.e. the bowl of your stand mixer if using) mix the two flours, the salt and the yeast, ensuring that the salt and the yeast do not come into direct contact with each other. Make a well in the centre and pour in the melted butter and 300ml tepid water. Mix well, either by hand or with a round bladed knife or use the dough hook. You need to make a ball of soft dough.
2. Knead on a lightly floured surface: 10 – 12 minutes by hand. It will be quicker if using a dough hook. If so, keep going until the ball of dough begins to slap against the interior of the mixer bowl.
3. When the dough is smooth and elastic place it in a lightly oiled bowl and cover. (I use an elasticated shower cap) Leave to rise until doubled in volume – about 1 – 2 hours, depending on the environment.
4. Meanwhile grate the cheese and fry the onion until lightly caramelised.
5. Knock back the risen dough by lightly kneading or folding it a few times. Halve the dough and shape into two balls. Use cupped hands to drag the surface of each ball down and under so that the outer skin has been pulled taught. Flatten them into rounds about 18 – 20 cm in diameter and place on separate baking sheets.
6. If desired, make a series of cuts into the sides to create wedges. Six is a good number, but you can do more or less. Either, cover each sheet with a damp tea towel or – as I do – put each one inside an unused kitchen bin liner. Fold the open end under the baking sheet to trap air inside. Leave to rise and double in size once more.
7. Turn the oven on to 220C/ Fan 200C/ 425F/ Gas 7. Place a metal dish or a tray with raised sides in the bottom of the oven.
8. Brush the risen loaves with egg and scatter over the cheese and the onion. When you put the loaves in the oven add some ice cubes or cold water to the hot metal tray to create steam. Bake the loaves for around 30 minutes. Check after 20 as you may need to cover with foil if the onions are beginning to burn. (In case you’re wondering, I quite like charred onions.)
9. When the loaves come out, tap the bottom of each one. A hollow sound indicates they’re baked. Leave on a wire rack to cool fully. (This is the hardest bit, as they’re so wonderfully tempting.)