Herbed cheese swirl bread
A light bread that rises overnight and fills the house with delicious aromas of hot cheese and herbs.
The desire to create and eat a certain kind of bread overcame me suddenly. It had to be herby and it had to have cheese. So I made it, with two kinds of filling. It’s not hard. The yeast does most of the work, while you’re sleeping or doing something else around the house.
- 1/2 tablespoon dried yeast
- 1 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/8 cup olive oil
- 1 shallot
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 4 cups flour, plus more for sprinkling
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 1 cup mixed feta and blue-veined cheese plus 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (or use one kind of cheese, separated so as to have 1 cup per loaf)
- 1 beaten egg yolk, for painting the loaves
- Black pepper, either several gratings of fresh or 1/2 tsp. packaged
Dissolve the yeast in all the warm water.
Add salt, sugar, oil and the beaten egg. Mix well. I use an egg whip for this.
Chop the shallot finely. Add to the liquid mix. Add the thyme. Mix again.
Stir in, 1/2 cup at a time, 3 1/2 cups of flour. You will have a loose dough. Leave it in the bowl and cover all with plastic wrap.
Now, let the yeast do its work all by itself – leave the dough alone for 4 hours at room temperature (less in summer), or overnight in the fridge. At the end of that time, the dough should have risen and become very light and bubbly.
Pour 1/2 cup of flour over the surface of the dough and beat it in. Turn the dough around and around in the bowl. Stretch it out between your hands and gather it into a ball again; do this 5 times. Cover it with generous sprinklings of flour and let it rest in the bowl for 15 minutes.
Cut the dough in half. Put one half on a well-floured surface – I prefer to put it directly on the sheet of baking paper that it will bake on. This saves some cleaning up.
Roll the dough out to 1/4 inch height, forming a rectangle. Spritz the rectangle lightly with water, or brush water over the surface with a pastry brush. Spread the grated cheese over the surface, leaving a margin of 1 inch bare all around. For plain cheddar filling, grate some black pepper over the whole, or sprinkle the stuff out of the package. The photo above shows the white cheese/walnut filling.
Roll the dough from the short side up. Spritz the seam with water, or brush water on the seam with a pastry brush, and pinch the seam shut on all sides.
Sprinkle more flour onto the work surface and roll the seam side onto it, then roll the loaf again so that the seam is underneath. Set aside to rise again for 1 hour.
Do the same for the second loaf, spritzing the dough with water and spreading the filling over the surface. Roll up as described above. Set aside to rise.
Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to the highest heat.
When the loaves are risen and light, paint them with the beaten egg yolk. Transfer them, gently and tenderly, to the baking sheet.
Turn the oven temperature down immediately to 350° F (190° C).
Test for doneness at 25 minutes (a clean toothpick poked into the center of a loaf should come out dry). If the bread isn't done, bake another 10 minutes.
Allow them to cool for at least an hour before slicing and devouring.
If you don’t have, or don’t feel like using cheese, make the bread without it. The shallots and thyme create a delicate, herby taste that’s delicious all on its own. Cut the dough in two and shape two loaves your favorite way.
If you are using white cheeses but have no walnuts, use another nut, or chopped dried tomatoes.
Lovely bread to serve with soup. It deserves to have a good beer or wine accompany it.
Related Topics: Baking