While searching for strong cheddar cheese at a Supermarket, I spotted some packages of McLelland’s Seriously Strong, Extra Mature Cheddar, advertised as having a full tangy flavour. I bought one 200g packet and tried this in a cheese bread recipe which I modified changing the amount of ingredients and adding others. This is the result of my “experiment”. I guess it’s alright to call it, “My Herb Cheese Bread”!
6 cups Unbleached Organic Bread Flour ( 770g )
2 cups water. ( 428 g water )
1 Tbs Pure Maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
Strong Cheddar cheese 200g
2 tsp dried Oregano
2 tsp dried Basil
1 1/2 tsp Thyme
Some freshly grounded black pepper.
Mix the water, Maple syrup and yeast together in a large plastic bowl, ensuring that the water is warm, but not hot. Let this stand for 15 minutes or till the yeast is visibly active and bubbly.
Into the metal bowl of a Kitchen Aid, place in the Unbleached Organic Bread Flour, sea salt, Oregano, Basil and Thyme mixing up the dry ingredients as thoroughly as you can. Melt the 50g unsalted butter, and add this in. Then pour the water and yeast mixture into the metal bowl and machine knead for about 7 minutes till the dough does not stick to the sides of the bowl.
Kneading by hand for 7 to 8 minutes till the dough is silky, elastic and smooth.
Transfer this dough on to a floured surface or silicone mat, and hand knead for another 7 to 8 minutes till the dough is soft, elastic and silky smooth. Proof the dough covered, for an hour in a lightly oiled plastic bowl. I used some olive oil.
When the dough has doubled its size, transfer this back on to the silicone mat and divide the dough into two portions of equal size. While waiting for the dough to proof, I grated the cheese.
With a rolling pin, flattened each dough portion into a rectangular and add on the cheese as shown. Sprinkle some freshly grounded black pepper over the cheese to give it more zing! Then tightly roll the rectangular dough into a long loaf sealing the sides well. Proof the two loaves for another 45 minutes on baking paper. Meanwhile, fire up your oven to 200˚C with a small shallow metal tray inside the oven to be used for steaming when you later pour in 1/2 cup of boiling water.
After 45 minutes of proofing, score the loaves, and place them inside the oven on the baking stone and add in the 1/2 cup boiling water to the hot tray. Spritz with water twice in the first 10 minutes of baking and bake at 190˚C for 30 minutes. Remove the loaves and cool them on a metal rack.
During baking, some cheese will emerge from the loaves and may drip on to your baking stone, staining it with oil which is impossible to remove. Having the loaves on baking paper prevents this staining.
I used Maple syrup instead of white sugar, as I think this is healthier. After cooling, the sliced loaf has a thin but delightfully crispy crust, the brownish crumb is light, chewy, with a lovely delicious flavour and aroma of herbs and cheese. All I can say is, ” Wow! It’s on my list of favourites, now. However, I think the Scottish Matured Red Cheddar which I normally use, has a stronger flavour and colour, and I would probably go back to this cheddar for my next cheese bread bake!
“All sorrows are less with bread. ” ― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.