A very (late) good evening to you all! Tonights entry is later than usual as I have had a day filled with marking end of term tests and a Christmas work party, so this recipe has had to take the back seat! I’m back now though, ready for 1 more day of school before a whole 18 days of rest and recuperation with no students; which honestly has come at the perfect time!
My 10th Christmas bake is another savoury treat and is one I hope you will enjoy! I find bread making, particularly the kneading process, very therapeutic, so let this be the excuse you need to get your Christmas stresses out of your system 😉
This is one of those recipes that can have a million and one variations, literally any filling that you can think of will work, and if you want to switch the white flour for wholemeal, then it will work just as well! I used ham & smoked cheese in this loaf as I know we always have that in the fridge at Christmas time and, come boxing day, we will have a ton of left overs that need sprucing up in order to get eaten; enter the Boxing Day Stromboli!
The loaf will keep for up to 4 days if stored in an airtight container. Alternatively, it can be wrapped in cling film and frozen for up to 1 month, it just needs to be thoroughly defrosted before being baked for 30 mins at 170C.
Ingredients (Serves 6-8)
500g Strong White Flour
7g Sachet Fast-Action Dried Yeast
1 Tsp Salt
Up to 350ml Lukewarm Water
200g Smoked Cheese (any other cheese will work well too)
320g Cooked Smoked Ham/Gammon
Add the flour, yeast and salt to a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Pour in 2/3 of the water and use your fingers to mix the flour and water together until you have a pillowy, workable dough (you might need to add more water to bring the dough together).
Tip the dough onto a floured surface and knead for at least 10 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic before placing back into an oiled mixing bowl and covering with cling film. Leave the dough to rise for about an hour, until it has doubled in size.
Whilst the dough is proving, chop up the cheese and ham into small, 1cm-chunks and place to one side, ready to use later.
After the dough has doubled in size, tip in back onto the floured surface and ‘knock back’ the dough by pushing all the air out. Now, using a rolling pin, roll the dough out until you have a rough rectangle shape about 2cm thick.
With the short side of the rectangle facing you, place the ham and cheese filling in the centre of the dough, leaving a wide gap (at least 3 inches) surrounding the filling.
Using a sharp knife, make diagonal cuts into the dough (about an inch wide) around the filling, and make sure there is an equal number of strips on each side of the dough.
* The recipe here uses the same method I did and includes pictures, this may be easier to follow!!
Fold the strips over the filling, alternating strips from each side so you get a plaited look and the filling is covered by dough (like the picture below).
Once the loaf is stuffed and plaited, transfer it to a baking tray and pre-heat the oven to 220C/200C Fan/390F. Leave the dough to prove on the baking tray covered with a damp tea cloth for another 30 minutes.
After this final proving time, place the baking tray in the centre of the oven and bake for 15 minutes, before reducing the heat to 190C/170C Fan/375F and baking for a further 25-30 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Leave the bread to cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack before slicing and serving with the rest of the boxing day buffet!