Makes : 1 standard loaf
Prep Time: 2 hours
Bake Time: 50 minutes
Cheese and bread is such a classic combination, and brings this loaf alive with flavour as well as the joy of melted cheese. I have added a chile fix, too, which can be as mild or strong as you choose. I use Aleppo chile flakes, which are a medium heat; see Top Tips for other suggestions. I would recommend using a cheese with a strong flavour or a combination of your favourite cheeses, cutting it into small cubes. This ensures that the flavour does not get lost in the loaf. I love to use sharp Cheddar cheese in my loaves, which is what I used in the loaf in the photo.
PREP: Feed your starter to generate the 50 grams
(¼ cup) of active starter needed for the recipe. Prepare
an 11-inch (28-cm)-long oval banneton with rice flour
and set aside a baking pan, at least 12 inches (30 cm)
long with a lid, plus parchment paper.
Step 1: In the early evening, in a large mixing bowl, roughly mix together
all the ingredients, except the cheese and rice flour, until you have a shaggy
rough dough. Cover the bowl with a clean shower cap or your choice of
cover and leave the bowl on the counter for 1 hour.
Step 2: After an hour or so, perform the first set of pulls and folds until
the dough feels less sticky and comes together into a soft, pink and red
speckled ball. Cover the bowl again and leave it on your counter.
Step 3: Over the next few hours, do three more sets of pulls and folds on
dough, covering the dough after each set. Perform the final set before
going to bed.
Step 4: Leave the covered bowl on the counter overnight, typically 8 to 10
hours, at 64 to 68°F (18 to 20°C).
Step 5: In the morning, the dough will have grown to double in size, with
a smooth surface. Sprinkle flour over your kitchen counter and lay the
pan liner open alongside the dough. Using a bowl scraper or your hands,
gently ease the risen dough from the bowl onto the counter. Use your
fingertips to start stretching and pushing out the dough, until it becomes
an 8 x 15¾–inch (20 x 40–cm) rectangle with an even thickness all over.
The dough will want to pull back as your stretch it; continue to pull it
gently, being careful not to make holes in the dough.
Sprinkle the cubed cheese evenly over the stretched dough. Roll up the
dough from one of the shorter edges toward the other to make an even
roll of dough. Lift the sausage of dough and place it, smooth side down,
in your prepared banneton, sprinkling extra rice flour down the sides and
across the top, cover with the same shower cap and place in the fridge for
at least 3 hours, maximum 24 hours.
Step 6: When you are ready to bake, decide whether you would like to bake
in a preheated oven or from a cold start. If preheating, set the oven to
425°F (220°C) convection or 450°F (230°C) conventional.
Remove the cover from the banneton, then place the paper over the top
of the banneton and the pan upside down over the top of them both.
With one hand under the banneton and one on the pan, turn it all over
together to turn the dough out of the banneton and into the pan. Score
the dough; you will be able to see and feel cubes of cheese poking through.
If you preheated the oven, put the lid on and bake for 50 minutes. If
using a cold start, place the covered pan of dough in the oven, set the
temperature as above and set a timer for 55 minutes.
After the baking time for either option, remove the covered pan from the
oven. Open the lid to check the loaf. Baking in a lidded pan produces a
golden loaf. When you take the lid off, if you feel that your loaf is looking
pale, place it back in the hot oven, in its pan, minus the lid, for 5 to 10
minutes to brown the loaf to the color of your choice.
Step 7: Once baked, carefully remove the loaf from the pan, saving the
parchment paper for next time, and allow the baked loaf to cool on a wire
rack for at least an hour before slicing.
If you make this loaf as written, the heat will be a mild warmth. Increase
it by doubling the amount of chile flakes, or by using a stronger form of
chile flakes or powder, or replace the chile flakes with a piri piri or Cajun
spice blend for a different flavor.
This will produce a cheese-packed loaf; if you would prefer less, use half or
three-quarters of the amount of cheese. Use two different colored cheeses
to create a truly inviting-looking loaf.