O is for Onion & Cheese Tear & Share Loaf
I'm chuffed with how my onion & cheese tear & share loaf has turned out. I made it last night & my husband & I had to summons all of our willpower not to tuck into it until after I had taken some photos of it this morning for my blog. My husband's first comment was that it tasted way better than the best of what we could buy at our local supermarket. Result! The bread is soft - the way good bread should be & it's really tasty due to the little savoury surprise of cheese & onion inside each roll!
I could count on one hand the amount of times I've tried making bread so when I was planning what to make starting with the letter O for this week's A-Z baking challenge blog, I decided to swap around the cheese & onion in the title for this bread so I could give it a go. The recipe is from one of my favourite books, The Great British Bake Off 'How to Bake the Perfect Victoria Sponge and other Baking Secrets'. Page 109 to be precise.
You know the old saying "good things take time", well I'm sure that whoever first said this was talking about bread. Bread isn't something you can just throw together - it does take a bit of time to get from 'whoa to go'... or should I say dough to bread. This is because you need to rest the dough & then let it rise to double its size for around 40 mins twice during the process. For this recipe, the resting & rising stages took nearly two hours all up. BUT - you'll be rewarded with not only some delicious bread at the end of it, you'll also feel really proud of yourself & experience a great sense of achievement knowing that that delicious bread was made by your fair hands.
If you're afraid of making bread - don't be with this. Trust me - given my bread making experience, if I can make this work - so can you. Just follow the recipe to the letter, be gentle with the dough, don't over knead it & you shouldn't have any problems.
On to the recipe...
450g strong white bread flour (this is important: normal flour won't do - you need to buy proper bread flour)
1.5 teaspoons sea salt flakes, crushed
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1 x 7g sachet of fast acting dried yeast
300ml lukewarm water
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus a little extra for brushing the top of the bread once it's baked
1 onion, halved & sliced thinly
120g grated mature Cheddar cheese (I used around 140g of Colby cheese)
You need a very large, flat baking tray to fit this loaf on to. I made do with the largest tray that I had & positioned the loaf diagonally across the tray. This worked OK - a couple of sides were a tad squished but it wasn't too bad.
What to do...
- Sift the flour, salt & sugar into a large bowl & then stir in the yeast. TIP: use a mortar & pestle to grind the sea salt flakes down so that you can sift the salt in with the flour & sugar.
- Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients & then pour in the water along with one tablespoon of the oil. Mix just until a dough is formed - you might need to get your hands dirty at this stage as I found it easier to mix most of the water & oil in with a wooden spoon & then finish mixing with my hands.
- Cover the bowl with cling film & then leave the dough to rest for 10 minutes.
- Lightly dust your kitchen bench with some of the bread flour, turn the dough out & then knead for 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth & elastic. Don't overwork the dough & keep an eye on the time that you're kneading it for. I set my oven timer for this & found that 5 minutes was enough to get a smooth & elastic dough. Shape the dough into a ball.
- Pour a little oil onto your hands & then rub them around the inside of the bowl to grease it. Place the dough back in the bowl. Use some more oil to grease one side of some clingfilm & then with the greased side facing down onto the bowl, seal the top of the bowl with the clingfilm.
- Leave the dough somewhere warm for an hour or until it has doubled in size (hot water cabinets are great for this. Sadly I don't have one of those, so I put mine on the floor in the lounge in front of our gas fire! Lightly place a tea towel over the top of the bowl as well to help retain the warmth).
- While your dough is rising you can go ahead & cook the onion. Use the second tablespoon of oil & place it in a small frying pan. Chop the onion finely & then cook until the onion is soft (don't brown the onion). Leave aside to cool.
- Prepare your large baking tray by spraying a little cooking oil into the corners & then securing a sheet of baking paper over the top.
- Go ahead & grate the cheese, then cover & set aside until a bit later.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, remove the clingfilm & then form a fist with your hand & give the dough a good 'ol punch to knock the air out of it.
- Lightly oil your kitchen bench & then remove the dough from the bowl & knead it for a couple of minutes until smooth.
- You now need to divide the dough into 19 even pieces. I just cut my dough in half & in half again - continuing this process until I had 16 pieces. Then I just took a bit from each ball to form the last three that I needed.
- Next you will be flattening each ball into a disc, filling it with a little onion & cheese, forming it back into a ball & then placing it on your tray. To do this, have your onion & around 60g of your grated cheese at the ready. Making sure that your kitchen bench is still lightly oiled so the dough doesn't stick, gently flatten each ball of dough into a disc of around 7.5cm in diameter. Place a small amount of onion (around a teaspoonful) & then the same amount of grated cheese into the centre of the disc. Pick up the ends & sides of the dough & pull it up over the cheese & onion, pinching the dough at the top so that it forms a seal & looks sort of like a round dumpling. You want to make sure that you seal the onion & cheese inside the dough & that each ball is round & even.
- Arrange the dough balls seam side down at about 2cm apart from each other on your baking tray in a honeycomb pattern of 3, 4, 5, 4, 3. I started with the row of 5 first, so that I could work out the best placement of the loaf on the tray.
- Either cover the dough balls with a large upturned roasting tin or, if you don't have one big enough, then just place some oiled cling film over the top. Leave the dough to rest again in a warm place for a further 30-40 minutes or until the dough balls have doubled in size.
- Towards the end of the rising time, heat your oven to 190C static or 170C fan bake.
- Once the dough balls have risen to twice their size, sprinkle over the remaining cheese (I also seasoned mine with a little more salt) & bake for 25-30 minutes or until the loaf has risen nicely all over & is a lovely golden brown. Make sure you rotate the oven tray half way through the baking time to ensure that the loaf browns evenly.
- Once you have removed the loaf from the oven, brush the top with a little oil & leave it to cool.