Sunday, 3 May 2015

Mature Cheddar & Caramelised Onion Swirl Bread Recipe (This is heaven on a plate!)

I've been keeping myself busy this weekend, and one of the things I've been doing is baking. A friend, Paul, gave me this recipe for mature cheddar cheese and caramelised onion bread, and it is about the tastiest bread I have ever eaten :). So, I thought I'd share how to make it.


Bread Mix:
500g Strong Bread Flour
2 tsp Salt
12g Fast Acting Dried Yeast (approx 2 sachets)
40g Softened Butter
200ml Tepid Water (approx - you may need a little more, or a little less)
Olive oil (for kneading and non-sticking)

200g Mature Cheddar
1 Red Onion
1 tsp of Balsamic Vinegar (the syrup is great)
1/2 tsp of Brown Sugar

A large mixing bowl
A jug for the water
Cling film (plastic wrap)
A tea towel
Baking Tray x2
Baking Parchment if the tray is not silicon.
A knife
A rolling pin


Combing the Dough:
Place the flour, salt and yeast into a bowl, ensuring the yeast and salt do not touch before mixing (the salt will kill the yeast). Break the butter into small knobs and drop into the dry ingredients, mixing them all up with your hands until everything is distributed through the flour evenly. Then begin adding the water a little at a time, combining all the ingredients into a soft, but not sticky dough. If you add a little too much water, just add a smidgen more flour.

Kneading the Dough:
Once the dough is formed, spread a teaspoon of olive oil on your kneading surface with your hand, then take the dough and place it down on the surface. Fold it over and turn 45 degrees, repeat another three times so the dough is very lightly coated in the oil and then begin to knead the dough until the gluten has developed properly and you have a springy dough (about 5-10 mins). Of course, if you have a mixer with a dough hook, you can leave it to do your kneading for you (about 5 mins again). 

Prove #1:
Fold the edges of the dough under and pat it round with your hands to form a ball. Then oil your mixing bowl and place the dough into it. Oil a piece of cling film and place over the top of the bowl, sealing it. Place a tea towel over the top of this and then leave in a warm place for 1 hour (or until the dough has doubled in size, which can take slightly more, or less time depending on the warmth of your proving place). I turn my oven on low (60 degrees centigrade) and leave my bread dough in front of it with the door open.

Preparing The Filling:
While your dough is proving, chop your onion very finely. Place a teaspoon of olive oil into a frying pan over a low heat and add the onions. Sweat them down for 20 - 30 mins, until they are translucent and soft and their natural sugars have been released. Then add the balsamic vinegar and the brown sugar, stirring them in and cooking for another 5-10 minutes. Leave them to cool.

Grate the cheddar and put aside a little for garnish.

Shaping the Bread and Prove #2:
Once the dough has doubled in size, take it back to the kneading surface. Roll out the dough using your rolling pin, into a rectangle. The exact length is up to you, and will depend on the size of your baking tray, but finish rolling the dough with the longest side at right angles to you. Scatter the cheese and onion evenly over the rectangle. Then, beginning with the side nearest you, curl the dough over and roll it away from you until you have a bread swirl (like a swiss roll), finishing with the open edge underneath the bread. Turn each end under and lift the bread onto your baking sheet. Cover with the cling film and the tea towel and put back into your warm place to prove for another hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.

Baking the Bread:
Place an old baking tray at the bottom of your oven (I stand mine on a cooling rack) and preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade. 

Once your dough has doubled in size, remove the cling film and, taking a sharp knife, make shallow diagonal slices over the top of the bread. Then sprinkle on the cheese you kept aside for garnishing.

Pour cold water into the tray at the bottom of the oven (this generates steam and helps with the crust of the bread), and then place the bread into the oven. Cook for 30 minutes (or until golden). You can check the bread is done by lifting it and tapping the underside. if it sounds hollow, the bread is ready.

Serving Suggestion:
This bread is best served warm, but you can cool and then reheat, or even toast it later. Try it with a cheese board, or olive oil and balsamic vinegar dips for a great starter, or just a snack.

Yes, I know, I had a bit of an air gap in my swirl
- that's because I didn't let the onions cool down!
The bread still tasted fantastic though :)
Mixing It Up

I used a standard white bread recipe for the dough, but, as they say, variety is the spice of life, and the strong flavours from the cheese and onion, I think, could take a different type of dough, rye, or spelt. Also, you don't have to caramelise the onion first if you don't want to, just make sure it is finely chopped. And, if you don't like cheddar, why not try a different cheese, or another filling, I might try garlic and herb soon.

If you do try out this recipe, or tweak it, I'd love to hear about your results.

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