A delicious cheesy sourdough bread with the added warmth of aromatic fennel seeds and juicy sun-dried tomatoes. Makes the most amazing toast.
1 quantity of Classic Sourdough Bread (Recipe posted on Lavender & Lovage)
250g grated reduced fat mature Cheddar cheese (VERY IMPORTANT, must be reduced fat. I used Waitrose reduced fat Cheddar cheese, taste strength 6)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
4 large sun-dried tomatoes in oil (snipped into small pieces)
A delicious cheesy sourdough bread with the added warmth of aromatic fennel seeds and juicy sun-dried tomatoes. Makes the most amazing toast. IT is very important to use reduced fat Cheddar cheese - see note in main recipe.
Using the ingredients for my classic sourdough bread recipe: 2 to 3 hours before you want to start your sourdough bread, take the starter out of the fridge and feed it with 40g filtered water and 40g strong white bread flour. Mix well, cover with cling film (or a shower cap) and set to one side to start working. After 2 to 3 hours the starter should be frothy and light with lots of bubbles and it may be making a noise, as in singing! It's now ready to use. Put the covered starter back in the fridge until it is needed next time you want to bake.
Place a bowl onto some digital scales and set the tare to zero. Add 60g of sourdough starter and set the tare to zero again; then add the salt and water, again, I find it easier to set the tare to zero before adding the flour. Take the bowl off the scales and mix well, it will look rough and lumpy, but never fear it will soon start to look like bread dough! Cover the dough with cling film/shower cap and set to one side.
After an hour, uncover it and with your hands, bring the dough from the outside, and fold it into the middle. Do this for about 15 to 20 times - I find it is easier if I rotate the bowl at the same time. Cover it and set to one side
Do the folding and turning action two or three more times over the next few hours, by this time the dough will be smooth, elastic and sticky. I start this at about 3pm to 4pm and the dough is ready at about 8pm to 9pm. At this stage, add the grated cheese, fennel seeds and sun-dried tomatoes to the mixture, using your hands mix the ingredients into the dough, by turning the dough over and folding as before.
Once the dough is smooth and elastic (see above) and it will have risen by now too, take a 22cm (9") to 24cm (10") banetton basket and dust it with rice flour. Do one more set of folding actions with the dough and then place the ball of dough into the floured banneton basket. Easing the dough up around the sides, sprinkle some more flour around it and then sprinkle some over the top of of the dough. Cover with cling film/shower cap and set to one side in a cool place to prove overnight. (I use my pantry which is about 14 degrees C)
In the morning, the dough will have risen overnight and you will have a large, round ball of smooth dough that's ready to bake. Pre-heat the oven to 230C/220C Fan/450F/425F Fan/Gas mark 8 and line a large 30cm (15") cast iron casserole dish (Dutch oven) that has a lid, (OR a round enamel roasting tin with a lid) with grease-proof baking paper.
Uncover and invert the dough into the cast iron pot and then score the top with a lame or a razor blade. Place the lid on the pot and bake in the pre-heated oven for 50 minutes until the bread is well-risen, golden brown and with a crisp crust. NB: if you want a darker crust, take the lid off and bake for a further 5 to 10 minutes.
Carefully turn the loaf out onto a wire cooling rack and allow to cool for 1 hour before slicing it. Store it in the cooled cooking pot.
NOTE: I have recently experimented with the cold oven method, and it works like a dream. At step 7, place the bread into the pot and into a cold oven, then set the temperature for 230C/450F/Gas mark 8 and bake for 1 hour. Again, if you want a darker crust, take the lid off and bake for a further 5 to 10 minutes extra.
VERY IMPORTANT: I have used reduced fat Cheddar cheese, and this is very important, as normal Cheddar cheese has too high a fat content, and will render the loaf very wet and seep oil on baking, as well as giving a close and wet crumb. I have tested this loaf FIVE times with different cheeses, and reduced fat (30% reduced fat) Cheddar cheese works like a dream, as you can see from my photos. Use a very mature or vintage Cheddar - I used Waitrose Extra Mature Cheddar Cheese which has a taste strength of 6.