The last time I attempted to make bread with Pecorino Romano cheese, I did not like the results. I think the amount of cheese I used was insufficient, so it tasted flat! Last week, I walked into a new supermarket called “Taste” in the basement of the previous Holland Road POSB, across the road from Cold Storage. I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was a dedicated cheese room in the supermarket where I found Pecorino Romano cheese being sold. It’s not cheap. Cost $58.90 per kilogram. I got myself a small block about 245 gm.
I also received from my sister-in-law who just returned from France, a bag of T65 French flour which I thought I’d make a No Knead bread using the Pecorino cheese.
400 gm of the T65 Flour. ( You can use All Purpose flour or bread flour).
275 gm filtered water. (Adjust amount according to flour type used.)
1 1/2 cups Pecorino cheese cut into 1/4 inch cubes.
3/4 teaspoon dried yeast
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grounded black pepper.
Mix into a bowl the flour, yeast, salt, grounded black pepper, and the cubed cheese.
Finally add in the warm filtered water and thoroughly mix all these.
Let the mixture proof for 18 to 24 hours. I had mine proof for 18 hours.
Jim Lahey recommends using a 3 month aged Pecorino Toscano. Cheeses tend to get a bit saltier as they age so I decreased the salt in my recipe by 1/4 teaspoon as he recommends. You could use a pretty wide variety of cheeses for this, but I do think you want something semi-firm to firm. You don’t want a cheese that’s going to ooze all over the place. Any Pecorino or Parmesan would probably work fine.
Remember to mix the cheese in with the flour, salt, yeast, and black pepper and to combine everything evenly before adding the water.
After the long proofing time of between 18 to 24 hours, transfer the risen dough gently on to a floured surface and fold into a ball, and then place the dough on a towel, seam side down and let it proof a further 2 hours. Half an hour before the end of the second proofing time, heat up a dutch oven ( without the lid) and ensure that the oven temperature is around 240˚C.
You want to give the dutch oven about 30 minutes to get really hot. Don’t preheat the lid because a) it’s unnecessary and b) if you have a lid with a hard plastic nob, it might melt! After it’s preheated, carefully pull your pot out of the oven and flip in your shaped cheese dough into the pot. Now the seam should be up. When your dough is in the hot pot, put your lid on it and bake your loaf at 230˚C for 30 minutes. Then, with the lid off, bake for an additional 20-30 minutes. This will let the loaf form a really dark, lovely crust.
Take the bread out of the Dutch oven pot, and then transfer to a metal rack to cool.
“Without wishing in the slightest degree to disparage the skill and labour of bread-makers by trade, truth compels us to assert our conviction of the superior wholesomeness of bread made in our own homes.”
Eliza Acton, ‘Modern Cookery for Private Families’ (1845).