Monday 13 October 2014

Autumn Cheese and Cider Bread

   Crunchy brown leaves, warm and neutral tones, and apples, cider and cheese. This is autumn for me, especially here in the West Country. Wrapping up in thick sock, gloves and beautiful coats and warming the house with baking is one of the best things in life, so you can imagine how happy I was to bake bread the other morning while there was a cold fog outside. But it wasn't just any bread; I decided, as I saw the first red leaf in the garden, to gather up autumn and put it in the oven. Part from the woolies, I don't think fluff would go down too well.

   I used dry apple cider and some of Boursin's garlic and herb cheese for my bread - I was a little concerned that the garlic might over power it, but it complimented the whole thing rather well in my opinion, and no one in the house complained when they ate it, and Seeg in particular is usually quite vocal about his complaints, so I'm going to assume that it means something good.

You will need:
300ml dry cider
1tbsp soft light brown sugar
1tbsp dried active yeast
450g strong white bread flour
50g strong wholemeal bread flour
50g Boursin garlic and herb soft cheese
2tsp salt
50g unsalted butter
1 large egg

1. Melt the butter and allow to cool, and beat the egg in another bowl.

2. In a saucepan, bring the cider and sugar to the boil over medium heat and simmer gently for 1 minute. Turn off the heat and allow to cool until lukewarm.
3. In another small bowl, mix 2tbsp of the cooled cider with the yeast until you have a smooth paste. Mix the flours and the salt in another bowl and make a well in the centre, then pour in the yeast paste, the cooled, melted butter, the egg and about two thirds of the cider. Mix until you have a soft dough, then add the cheese, combining it to the mixture. If it seems too wet, add a little more flour.

4. Lightly flour a surface and knead the dough on it for 10 minutes until it's smooth and springy.

5. Oil a large bowl and transfer the dough into it, covering it with oiled clingfilm to keep the dough from drying out. Leave the dough alone for about an hour, hour and a half.

6. Once it has doubled in size, transfer the dough to an oiled 2lb bread tin and make sure to press the dough into the corner, and cover again with oiled clingfilm. Leave again for about half an hour so that it puffs back up.

7. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6 and bake at the middle or top of the oven until golden brown and well-risen - about 30-40 minutes.

8.You can pull the bread out after 20 minutes of baking and add a few pieces of cheese to the top of the bread and put it back in like I did.

   Look at this lovely autumnyness! The house smelled wonderful and I was suitably warmed up afterwards. I have some other Boursin cheese that I have other plans for, so I'm all for baking wholesome this autumn - though that's not to say that cakes will be put off, because life isn't worth living without cake!


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