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High-top Cheese and Onion Bread

I’ve wanted to make a cheese and onion loaf for a while now, so thought I’d give it a whirl using my basic bread recipe. However, helpful posters on the Chocolate and Zucchini forums mentioned interesting things like working with a sticky dough (i.e. adding as little flour as possible) to obtain a light bread with larger bubbles, and to use the window-pane test to see if the bread is kneaded enough.

The window-pane test is as follows: Take a piece of the dough and stretch it out thinly such that you it will pass light through it. If you can do this without breaking the dough, no further kneading is required.

Of course, if you’re making a drier loaf then the usual spring-back elasticity test works fine.

As it turns out, the advice was indeed correct. The resulting loaf was incredibly light, the crumb just like that of a typical bakery loaf, and the flavour, as usual was fantastic.

h2. Ingredients

h3. Sponge

* 1.5 cups of warm water
* 1.5 Tablespoons of active dry yeast
* 1 Tablespoon of raw castor sugar
* 1 cup of plain white flour

h3. Dough

* 1 cup wholemeal plain flour
* 1 cup white plain flour
* 1/8 cup semolina flour
* 1 Tablespoon salt
* a handful of grated cheese (or you could use cubes of vintage cheese or maybe fetta)
* caramelised onions (see below)
* some extra flour – 6 to 8 Tablespoons (not really sure, must pay more attention next time)

h3. Caramelised Onions

* half a large onion, or 1 whole medium onion, diced
* some red wine (or other alcohol)
* 1 Tablespoon of butter
* 1 teaspoon of brown sugar


h2. Method.

Cut your onion(s) and place in a small cast-iron skillet with the butter on very low heat. Cover and only stir occasionally to ensure your onions don’t burn. When the butter looks to be running out, or you’re in danger of frying the onion pieces rather than gently caramelising them, add a dash of red wine (or white or sherry or even cognac). Eventually, when the onions are soft you want to add the brown sugar and stir that it, cover and stir occasionally as above, but that will of course be somewhat later, as this takes time.

While you’re waiting, place all the ingredients for the sponge into your standing mixer bowl (I use an ancient Kenwood Chef, you might have something else, you could even do it by hand, and I’ve done that before but I tend to get more consistent results form a machine mix/knead). Whisk the ingredients together and allow to stand for about 10 mins.

Check the onions.

Back to the dough… add the remaining flours and salt (except the “extra flour” as that comes later) and mix with the dough hook until combined and the dough is thinking about leaving the sides of the bowl. That can sit there now and you can check the onions. If the onions are done, drain them of excess butter, and place them on a plate to cool.
Add two tablespoons of the extra flour to the dough and mix again. The dough should now pull away from the edges of the bowl rather than sticking to it. Add another tablespoon of flour and mix again. We’re aiming for a sticky but manageable dough. Add more flour if necessary in order to achieve this, but do not add too much flour or the dough will lose it’s wet stickiness, and thus will not be anywhere near as light as we’re hoping to attain.

Add the onions and cheese to the dough and mix in thoroughly. Knead for a couple of minutes in the machine, then try the window-pane test to see if it’s ready. If it is, remove the dough from the bowl and knead by hand on a floured surface until it’s manageable. Form into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl.
Cover with a tea-towel and allow it to rise until doubled in bulk (about an hour).

Remove the risen dough from the bowl and knead again until springy, then form into the desired loaf shape. I was making a sandwich loaf so it got pressed into a floured bread tin. You could make a round loaf, scoring the top in a radiant burst pattern if you preferred.

Cover the bread tin with a tea-towel and allow to rise again until it extends past the top of the tin (45mins roughly).

If using a bread tin, score the top three times diagonally with a serrated knife (no more than 5mm deep).

Heat your oven to 190C and bake for 40 minutes. The bread will rise slightly more in the oven, and then depending on the height it has attained, it may spread a little before the crust crisps up.

Cool on a rack before slicing.


posted to Breads and Baking,Recipes @ 10:37 pm

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  • At 4:06 pm on 5 September, 2006, Maggie commented:

    Hi David, I just had to let you know how fantastic this bread is. I made it on Sunday when our son and dil were coming over for father’s day dinner and everyone loved it with my son taking the recipe away with him (he is a really good cook). I’ve been on a bit of a bread making kick lately, but was seriously beginning to think I lacked a bread making gene or something since I was having one failure after another – every loaf or roll was way too dense. I’ve been reading your blog for a while and remembered seeing the cheese and onion bread so thought I’d give bread making another go. I’m glad I did, this loaf turned out perfect – light air crumb, lovely crust and it rose beautifully. Thank you very much for this recipe. Next I’ll try your french bread. Cheers.

  • At 4:25 pm on 5 September, 2006, David commented:

    Whoot! Thanks Maggie 🙂
    It’s always nice to get feedback. Glad everyone liked it!

    I’ve been baking at least twice a week since the start of the year now and I reckon the basic recipe (of which this is based) works a treat.
    In fact I don’t even use a recipe anymore (beyond what’s in my head). You can change the sweetening agent to change the flavour, add seeds, nuts, dried fruit and spices, whatever and it always turns out great.

    Be aware that my earlier recipes for bread here will indeed be denser than this, as I was still getting the hang of it 🙂

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Mascarpone Chicken with Beans and Rice | home | Creamy Honey Mustard Drumstick Casserole