A drizzly weekend seemed like a good time to fill the house with the aroma of spices. It started out with the need to replenish our supply of Cinnamon-Raisin-Walnut Bread, my Number One Bread Fan’s favorite. Then, I wanted to bake something really special to take to our friends’ new house for a pre-dinner snack and cocktail. I settled on making a second attempt at the Cheese-Curry-Onion Bread from The Cheese Board Collective’s cookbook.
Peter Reinhart’s Cinnamon-Raisin-Walnut Bread may be the bread I’ve baked more times than any other. It’s a real treat every time. I usually use a mix of walnuts and pecans, and use butter in place of shortening. And this time I decided to try it with 25% whole wheat flour, since we’ve been enjoying the flavor of whole grains lately. Besides, we have declared that whole wheat makes this a health food, so we can eat it even more often without sugar-guilt.
A well-balanced breakfast.
At the beginning of my baking education, I started on sourdough. The first straight dough bread I made was the Cheese-Onion-Curry Bread from Berkeley’s Cheese Board Collective. As I reported back in September, it is a bread with very special memories of my gradual school days in the ‘70s. So when my wife--as if reading my mind-- gave me The Cheese Board Collective Works as a birthday present, I immediately tried to bake a batch of taste memory. We loved it, and now six months later, I can’t believe I haven’t baked it since. It was time.
In the interim, I’ve read a lot of recipes here at TFL and elsewhere that use cheese, onions and bacon in various combinations. They usually make me drool. I decided to vary the Cheese Board’s recipe a bit. I used a combination of yellow onions and scallions, and I added some fried bacon (in our house, we call it Vitamin B), since almost everything with cheese and onions is better with bacon.
This bread is a complete meal. You start with a simple yeast bread dough with curry powder and pepper. Then add onions/scallions, chopped bacon and a full pound of cubed cheese. I used a combination of Sharp Cheddar, Jarslberg and Gruyere.
The amount of chunky stuff in the dough makes it impossible to form a smooth-skinned boule, so the loaf flattens out some in baking, but holds together with some luck. It's not a real pretty bread, but my, my, what flavor!
The best part is the pockets of molten cheese interspersed with the strongly cheese and curry flavored moist and tender crumb. I think the bacon flavor is barely noticeable, but my wife tells me it's there and it's good. She suggests dialing back the curry a bit so the bacon flavor comes through more. I may try that.
This is a recipe worth trying if you’re looking for a hearty meal in a loaf. I highly recommend The Cheese Board Collective Works (http://www.amazon.com/gp/search?index=books&linkCode=qs&keywords=1580084192). It's got lots of recipes for breads and morning baked goods, too.
Here’s my variation on the recipe:
Cheese Scallion Bacon Curry Bread
(adapted from Cheese Onion Curry Bread in The Cheese Board Collective Works)
4 cups Bread Flour 570g
1 ½ tsp Instant Yeast 5g
1 ½ tsp Black Pepper 3g
1 ½ Tbsp Curry Powder 4g
2 tsp Kosher Salt 12g
1 ¾ cups Lukewarm Water 400 g
6-8 slices Bacon, cooked and chopped
½ yellow onion plus 6 Scallions, chopped
1 pound Mixed Cheeses*, cut into ½ inch cubes
Medium yellow cornmeal (for sprinkling)
1 Egg, beaten (for glaze)
* Any firm flavorful cheeses will do. I used a combination of sharp cheddar, Jarslberg and Gruyere. If you don’t want molten pockets of cheese in the bread, you could grate the cheese.
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, yeast, pepper, curry powder and salt. Add water and mix until ingredients well combined.
Transfer to lightly floured board and knead until smooth and silky (10-12 minutes)
In a small bowl, toss onions and scallions with 1/2 Tbsp of flour and mix.
Flatten the dough to a one-inch thick disk and add scallions and bacon to the center. Gather the dough around the scallions and bacon and knead to incorporate (2-3 minutes).
Again flatten the dough and add cheese in center. Gather up the dough around the cheese and knead to incorporate.
Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl large enough for dough to double. Turn the dough to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp cloth. Let the dough rise until doubled (about 60-90 minutes at room temperature).
Sprinkle cornmeal on two baking pans.
When dough has doubled, place it on a lightly floured board and divide into three equal pieces. Shape each as a loose boule, cover with a floured dish towel and let rest for 10 minutes. (Note: with the chunks of cheese, there’s no way to get a smooth taut sheath on the loaf. Don’t sweat it).
Shape each ball into a boule and place on baking pans dusted with corn meal (I used parchment between the pan and the cornmeal). Cover the loaves with a floured dish towel and let rise until increased in size about 50% (or use poke test). This takes about 60-75 minutes at room temperature.
Pre-heat oven to 450F.
When loaves are proofed, brush with beaten egg and bake (Note: no need to slash and no need for steam).
After 10 minutes at 450F, lower temperature to 400F. Rotate baking pans as necessary to achieve even browning.
Bake a total of 35 – 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown and loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Remove loaves to cooling rack. Eat when not quite cool (45 minutes).
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