Cheese and Herb Bread

Normally on a Sunday I wake up to the smell of fresh bread through the house, as my dad likes to put our bread machine to use and make us a loaf for a nice Sunday lunch. BUT, as it was Fathers Day here in the UK this Sunday, I thought I would treat my dad and save him a job by making the bread from scratch this week!

This was slightly daunting for me – the first and last time I made bread was about 8 years ago in a food tech class at school – but with a bit of patience and a lot of arm-work the finished product is definitely worth it, and this recipe is definitely perfect for a first-time or new baker.

Because of the cheese in this recipe, I actually found that I could enjoy a slice on its own, with no butter, and it made a lovely lunch, and it was definitely a loaf that went down well with the family! I’ve definitely got the baking bug again and think I will be trying out a Rosemary Focaccia (another one of the old mans favourites’) so keep a look out for that recipe!

Ingredients (Makes 1 25cm Circular Loaf)

500g Strong White Bread Flour

1 Tsp Salt

1 Tsp Granulated Sugar

15ml Olive Oil

7g (1 Sachet) Easy Bake Yeast

4 Tbsp Mixed Italian Herbs (Oregano, Basil or Parsley work just as well on their own)

150g Mature Cheddar Cheese, grated (Mild cheddar can also be used but may not give such a strong flavour in the final product)

300ml Warm Water (If the water is too hot it will kill the yeast, if the water is too cold the yeast won’t be activated)

Recipe 

In a large mixing bowl, sieve together the flour, salt and sugar. To this dry mixture, stir in the oil, yeast, herbs and about 3/4 of the grated cheese with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.

Make a small well in the centre of this mixture and gradually add the warm water, mixing until a soft dough begins to form. This does take a few minutes so be patient!

Turn this dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic and springy to touch (this can take up to 10 minutes so again, be patient, it’s worth it)!

When the dough has reached this stage, then put it into an oiled bowl and cover with some oiled cling film or a damp tea cloth and leave it in a warm place for a minimum of 1 hour – until the dough has doubled in size.

After this hour has passed, and the dough is twice as large, preheat the oven to 230C/210C Fan Oven/Gas Mark 8.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and, using your hands, shape into a circular/oval shape that is about 2 inches thick. Using a sharp knife, score the dough with 3 diagonal lines and sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over the top of the dough with a little bit of flour (this will add to the rustic look of the bread when it comes out of the oven).

Pop the dough into the middle of the oven and leave for 15 minutes. Once this 15 minutes are up, reduce the temperature of the oven to 200C/180C Fan Oven/Gas Mark 6 and bake for a further 20-25 minutes, until the bread is risen, golden brown, and sounds hollow when tapped on the underside.

Once cool (or warm – bread really does taste best when it’s freshly baked) cut yourself a slice and enjoy!

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