The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Spinach Cheese Boule with Whole Wheat

dolfs's picture

Spinach Cheese Boule with Whole Wheat

Many a Sunday my wife and son buy a boule at the local farmer's market which they call Spinach Cheese Bread, even though it has lots of other veggie stuff in it too. They like it, so for last week's baking session I decided to try and make my own.

First problem was no recipe available on the Internet that seemed to make what I wanted. So I had to make my own. I decided to use frozen chopped spinach, mild gouda cheese (what else to expect from a Dutchman), and I also wanted to have a portion of whole wheat flour in it. I've made whole wheat bread before and using a poolish did wonders for my schedule as well as for the dough and overall taste. So, I decided this one was to use a poolish too!

I've also been working on a spreadsheet the allows me to do all baker percentage calculations (helps with recipe scaling and design). While I was at it, I added an ingredient database to it with cost information, hydration information and specific gravity for ingredients so I can correctly convert weight measurements to volumes for those we like to bake that way. You'll find a PDF of this recipe here.

A few words about the spreadsheet

The spreadsheet's yellow cells is where you input your desired values (this includes ingredients). A "Y" in the "Pre" column indicates an ingredient that is part of a preferment. A "P" indicates an ingredient that is a separately created preferment. Although there are different options for baker's percentages when using preferments, I have chosen to express everything as percentages of dough in the overall recipe. Note that tap water temperature, mixer friction and baking loss are specific to my situation (and an estimate I am still refining for each type of bread for the loss, mostly evaporation, and friction).

The component temperatures are to be entered on the bottom, if you want to be precise with final dough temperature. If necessary it will calculate how much ice to add to the water if it needs cooling (rarely the case in my home baking). The spreadsheet automatically adjusts for the number of components that have a temperature specified so if you do not enter a value for the preferment (presumably because you are not using one), the factor will be 3 instead of 4.

Some measurements in the "US Weight" column are given in tablespoons etc. The spreadsheet does this if the actual value as a weight becomes so small that, with most scales, you can not accurately measure. Since I have (pretty accurate) specific gravity values for the ingredients, I can quite reliably (subject to all the fallacies of measuring volumes: packed, spooned, shifted) give the volume. I use a scale accurate to 1 gram myself, but for these small amounts, a small measuring spoon workds great (I have a set for dashes, smidgens, and pinches as well).

Hydration is calculated by computing the water content of all ingredients that are composed 50% or more of water and adding them up. That catches water, milk, eggs etc., but does not count water content in dough. Cost is based on a home baker buying pretty regular ingredients in a super market. The exception is that I use KA prices for my flour as I will not use the cheap stuff.

The recipe

Making the poolish is straightforward. I make it the night before and leave it on the counter (about 68F), and it'll be close enough to ready the next morning around 11AM. The amount of final dough in this recipe is about right for an 8" banneton (scaled up from what I used to make the one in the picture above, which got misshaped whe inverting onto the peel). Nevertheless, it is borderline not enough to knead properly in my KitchenAid so I finish with manual labor.

In the last minute or two of kneading I add the cheese (room temperature, cubed in 1/4" pieces), and spinach. I made the mistake of not squeezing enough water out of the thawed spinach, so my dough got too wet and I had to add flour (not represented in the recipe because you should squeeze it out).

Next bulk ferment, about 90 minutes in my case. I did a fold about half way through. Next degas and preshape. Twenty minutes relaxing and final shaping.

I preheated oven at 500F, with water for pre-steam added in a baking pan in the last few minutes. Invert the bread out of the banneton onto parchment paper on the peel. Scored in a \ | / pattern, a sprayed with water. Into the over on baking stone, more water in the pan for steaming. Spray oven walls with water twice, 30 seconds apart after putting loaf in the oven. Then reduce to 475F.

Baked for a total of 35 minutes, oven vented for last 10. Here was the result.


dolfs's picture

I just realized that the recipe link did not work, so I fixed it. The recipe is now online.
For those of who missed the link in the middle of the text above, here it is: Spinach Cheese Boule Recipe

dolfs's picture

My family liked this bread so much, I decided to make it again this Friday. Used the same recipe, except squeezed more water out of the spinach before using, but still needed some more flour (although I made the dough a little wetter this time). I am coming to the conclusion that I will need to tone down the hydration in the recipe a little so that with the addition of spinach, the extra flour is, generally, not needed.

I also made a little more dough to fill the banneton better. This worked indeed as this loaf had much better shape. The scoring did still not result much in a visible "scar" so I'll work on that.

This time used aged Gouda cheese, rather than mild. I'll be going back to the mild. The aged did not melt as well and in the cooled bread left a harder piece than the mild cheese.

A final change was that I caught all the "spinach water" and then reduced it (boil off most of the water), and used the remaining green liquid instead of the water in the recipe.

The net result was a better shaped loaf, with even better taste. Was had visitors on Saturday morning, and now none is left! Booo! I am going to have to throw another one together tomorrow.

Spinach Cheese Boule, take 2Spinach Cheese Boule, take 2


koolmom's picture

I found the pdf file of your spreadsheet interesting.  Are you willing to share the actual spreadsheet with some instructions as well?




dolfs's picture

I have shared this a while ago, even with instructions! You can find that original article in this link: Dough Calculator Spreadsheet available | The Fresh Loaf


See my My Bread Adventures in pictures

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

That's also my favorite size loaf!  Thanks for the cheese tips.  Keep up the good work.  Mini Oven

Green Tea's picture
Green Tea

Made this bread today- had to do a few alterations though, since I didn't have buttermilk, so I thinned out some yoghurt with spinach water!  I ended up being much too wet because we don't have instant yeast at home so I had to start some up in some warm water and I forgot to take that away from the buttermilk amount.  I will certainly be making this again!

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

Looks like I'll be making this soon. My spinach is almost ready to eat in the garden!

cgmeyer2's picture

thank you dolf for the recipe. it includes a lot of my favorite foods. i'm german/irish & gouda was 1 of the cheeses that was always in my home when i was growing up; it's also there now.

i'll try to bake this bread in my romertopft that i use once a week to bake bread. i've not made boules yet; still learning.

thank you again for the recipe.

take care, claudia