Feta Cheese, Sundried Tomato and Oregano Bread.

So this week, I was looking at some of the blogs I follow and I came across a really interesting blog – http://fromagehomage.co.uk/ which is all about cheese. I am not sure about you, but I love cheese and my husband loves it too! So imagine my delight when I stumbled across this blog and I was even more delighted to see that every month they run a Cheese Please blog challenge where each month a different cheese is selected and then you come with a recipe using that cheese. So this month, was Feta, there were numerous things which I thought about for this, but decided to make bead in the end as it is something slightly different.

So that being said, here is my entry for the August’s Cheese Please blog challenge – Feta Cheese, Sundried Tomato and Oregano Bread. Big thank you to my wonderful husband for his assistance throughout, couldn’t have done it without him!

Equipment required:

  • 1 x Large mixing bowl
  • 1 x either proving basket, bread tin or simply a baking tray/stone
  • 1 x shower cap
  • 1 x dough scraper (or just use your hands!)

Recipe:

  • 500g Strong White Bread Flour (I used Stoneground Organic Flour from Stoates Flour – feel free to use whatever you normally use but make sure it is bread flour).
  • 17g Polenta (you can use Semolina)
  • 14g Fresh Yeast
  • 6g Salt
  • 260g Tepid Water
  • 40g Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 70g Sun Dried Tomatoes
  • 150g Feta Cheese Crumbled (I used Waitrose essential – you can use whatever you like as long as its feta!)
  • 1g Dried Oregano

Method:

  1. Firstly put the flour and the polenta in a big mixing bowl
    The Beginning

    The Beginning

  2. Then put the yeast in and coat it in the flour by crumbling it in the flour – you just need to coat it, don’t overwork it.
  3. Next add the salt, sundried tomatoes, oregano.
    Next stage

    Next stage

  4. Then add the water and olive oil. Mix together in the bowl until you have a rough dough like consistency in the bowl and then tip onto your work surface using your dough scraper or hands. (Don’t worry if there are bits left in the bowl, either scrape them out or leave them in.
  5. Check the time and knead for about 10 mins until you have an elastic quality and the surface is smooth. The dough should not be wet or sticking to your hands at this stage, it should be easy to work and should ease back when you stretch it out.
  6. Using your hands flatten out the dough into a rectangular shape – something like this –

Dough

6. Then sprinkle the feta cheese over it and start to roll it up from the one side – should look like this –

Feta is being incorporated

7. Once rolled up, flatten it out again and repeat the process until you have incorporated all the feta cheese. Once you are finished, it should look something like this –

Ready for first proving.

8. You can then put it back into the same mixing bowl that you used and then cover it with a shower cap (if you don’t have a shower cap, use cling film!) –

Proving in bowl with shower cap

9. Set your time for 45 mins to 1 hour (depending on the weather – if warmer towards 45 min mark, if cooler, towards the hour mark). After you have let it prove then it should’ve doubled in size and look something like this –

Doubled in size - ready for stage two.

10. You then gently flatten it down with the knuckles of your hand so that you knock the air out. Now you need to pull out a section and fold it back into the middle and you need to do this all the way round the dough on your work surface – the next sequence of photos will give you an idea –

Stretching out 1

Stretching out 2

11. Once this is done and all the sides are folded in, carefully turn it over and shape it into the size of the tin/proving basket or whatever you are using (do this gently and don’t make it the full size, as it will rise again – so at this stage it will look like this –

Shaping for second proving

12. Carefully place it in the bread tin/proving basket and cover with the shower cap (make sure that you make it into a pyramid shape so that it is not flat as the bread will stick to it and you don’t want that! If no shower cap, at this stage use a plastic shopping bag – not cling film!).Shaped and in the tin.

With shower cap.

13. Set your timer for 45 mins, check that it has risen and if so, turn your oven onto 220 Degrees (*Top Tip – if you have a fan, don’t use it as it doesn’t distribute the heat evenly and you don’t get a nice bake, so just a normal none fan assisted oven). Set the timer now for 10 mins (purely to allow the oven to get hot. When the time goes, you should have a loaf that looks like this –

At the end of second proving

14. You then need to carefully using a VERY sharp knife or carefully using a razor blade make between 3 to 6 slices over the top of the bread – like this –

Sliced across the top.

I sliced it 6 times, you can slice it 3 or however many you feel and in any shape/design you like!

14. You then spray it with some olive oil and sprinkle the top with dried oregano – should look something like this –

Sprinkled with Oregano and Sprayed with Olive Oil

15. Pop the bread in the oven and bake it in the oven for 37 mins. You will be able to tell that it is done by when you take it out the oven, tap it lightly on the bottom of the loaf (be careful as it is hot!) and it should sound hollow. Your loaf at this stage should look like this – Looks good hey?! 😉 Your kitchen at this stage should smell awesome! That wonderful Mediterranean herby smell! Mmmmm!

The finished baked Feta, Sundried Tomato and Oregano Loaf

16. Leave to cool on a wire rack (don’t cut into it no matter how good it smells!) and once cool cut into it and enjoy – I made this in the evening and once it was cooled down put a clean dish towel over it to protect it until I came to eat it the next morning – this will help to retain the crust on it.

17. This is what it looks like cut into –

The sliced loaf - gorgeous crumb and texture.

Pop into a toaster or put some butter and your topping of choice on it and enjoy – I used avocado.

I am entering this recipe into the August’s Cheese Please! Recipe Challenge.

Picnic Plait.

So as promised in yesterday’s blog, I will now give you the recipe for the Picnic Loaf which I made over the weekend. I got this recipe out of book Bread Making by Ruth Clemens. She makes everything really quite simple and you can see her blog over here. This recipe is not on her blog, but I am it is her recipe! There is also a cheats way to make it, which I will share at the end of the blog!

Recipe for Picnic Plait:

Ingredients:

Pre-Ferment

  • 100g (3 1/2oz) strong white bread flour
  • 2tsp fast action dry yeast
  • 125ml/125g (4 1/2fl oz / 4 1/2 oz) water, cold.

Dough

  • 200g (7oz) strong white bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 large egg

Filling

  • 125 g (4 1/2 oz) (4-5) slices of thick cut roast ham (I used thin sliced ham and about 10 slices and it was fine!)
  • 75g (2 3/4 oz) cherry tomatoes quartered (I used normal vine tomatoes and just sliced them and it was fine!)
  • 75 g (2 3/4 oz) mozzarella (I used cheddar grated and it was fine!)
  • Small handful of basil leaves (or chives or other herb – your choice).

Glaze

  • 1 egg beaten.

Tip: You can make up your own filling for this recipe to suit your own taste, so if you are vegetarian, then you don’t need the ham. All you need to remember is to balance the dry ingredients with the wet ones, otherwise you will end up with a soggy dough.

Method:

Step 1.

Mix together the preferment ingredients in a bowl and cover with cling film and allow to develop for at least 4 hours or overnight in a cool kitchen or in the fridge. Once developed the preferment should be bubbly and have increased in volume. My fridge is quite cold so it didn’t develop as well as perhaps it should’ve done, all I did was left out of the fridge for about and 1 hour and it developed nicely, so don’t worry if it doesn’t look like it is working!

Step 2.

Add all dough ingredients to the pre-ferment and mix it into a rough dough. Tip out of the bowl and then knead it on a smooth work surface for about 10 minutes until smooth.  Transfer the dough to a lightly oil bowl (I used olive oil), cover with cling film or a shower cap and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.

After kneading and about to rest for 1 1/2 hours.

After kneading and about to rest for 1 1/2 hours.

Step 3.

Once the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a work surface (there is no need to oil or flour the surface to prevent it from sticking as it will be a little oily from the bowl). Gently roll it out into a 30cm x 30cm square (I didn’t manage to do this so it was a bit oblong, but that is fine!). Then gently press a finger at the bottom edge of the dough to mark the square or oblong into thirds.

Step 4.

You now need to fill the plait, so in the middle section which you have marked out, you need to use half the ham or filling of your choice to cover this section (before I laid down the ham, I actually put a layer of homemade chilli sauce, you could use ketchup or pesto or bbq sauce if you wanted, or leave it plain!) then scatter over the tomatoes, cheese and basil leaves (or whatever herbs you are using) before covering with the sliced ham. It should now look something like this –

Middle Section Filled

Middle Section Filled

Step 5.

You now need to make vertical cuts at the top and bottom of the dough so that the central sections form flaps that will be folded in later. Now make diagonal cuts at a 45 degree angle from the top corner of the dough to the filling on each side. The should be about 2.5cm (1 inch) apart. Cut away the two triangles at the very top and the bottom of each side. It should look something like this –

Plaits cut and triangles removed.

Plaits cut and triangles removed.

 

Step 6.

It is now ready to be plaited. Fold the flaps at the top and the bottom down over the filling. Then take the top strip of the dough from the left and fold it diagonally over the filling. Then fold in the strip from the right and overlap. Repeat the plaiting all the way down, one from the left one from the right and you should end up with something looking similar to this –

The finished plaited loaf waiting to prove.

The finished plaited loaf waiting to prove.

Carry on plaiting until all down and once finished tuck the straps underneath the loaf (I must admit that I had put slightly too much filling so it didn’t quite end up going all the way round to seal in the filling). Once this is done and you are happy with it (don’t worry if there are slight gaps, this is fine and doesn’t affect the finished product!) Gently pick it up and transfer the loaf to a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, use both hands to support the plait otherwise it is liable to break up. Looking like this –

Ready for final prove.

Ready for final prove.

Step 7.

You then cover the plait with a clean dish towel and place it in a warm spot to puff and double in size (I left mine for about 30 mins, to be honest, it probably could’ve been left for longer, but if it looks like it has risen and doubled in size then you are ready to go!) Preheat your oven to 180 oC(fan)/200oC/400oF/Gas Mark 6. When the plait has risen brush all over with beaten egg and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes until golden all over. (I chose to use the normal oven without the fan as I didn’t want the paper blowing everywhere!). Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

You should hopefully have something which looks like this –

2013-07-19 16.48.40

 

As you can see, I used the left over triangle to make a little snack with some cheese and chilli sauce!

As my plaits weren’t completely sealed, some of my cheese did melt out, but to be honest, it didn’t detract from the flavour as there was still some cheese in there and it didn’t affect the integrity of the bake. Once it has cooled completely you can then cover with a tea towel and take it on your picnic where you can wow your guests by cutting it open in front of them!

It should hopefully look like this inside –

Sliced and ready to be eaten!

Sliced and ready to be eaten!

I do hope that you enjoy making this – it really is not a difficult as it appears and the end result is amazing! I will definitely be making it again!

As promised, below is a link for a really simple picnic loaf where you can just essentially buy the bread already made and use a variety of fillings. Please note that I haven’t tried this recipe but am sharing it with you to give you an option.

I took this loaf recipe from Jacqueline Meldrum on her blog . Click here for the recipe for the stuffed picnic loaf option.

I will confess to not having made this, but I thought you all would appreciate an option for those days when you are not in the mood t bake!

Happy baking and have a good week.

Cheers

Deon