There is nothing better than the smell and taste of freshly baked bread. I find it absolutely irresistible. Despite this, until recently, I had never really tried baking my own bread. I think it was probably because whenever we made bread in food tech at school, mine was always a disaster. Not that this should really have stopped me, everything I made in food tech was a bit of a disaster. I remember spending about 6 weeks perfecting a sweet and sour chicken dish which my mum still refused to eat when I took it home.
Thankfully, my culinary skills have improved over the last 15 years and I am delighted to say that I can now add bread to the list of things I can produce.
I probably should’ve taken on something straightforward for my first attempt but as I was flicking through my copy of The Great British Bake Off, How To Bake (a Chirstmas gift from Auntie Clare) the cheese and onion tear and share caught my eye.
It was a bit fiddly but actually very simple and the results were great. I was proud as punch when it came out of the oven. Presentationally it wasn’t perfect but it wasn’t bad at all and next time round I’m sure it will be even better.
This is a great bread to bake for a picnic or a party as it makes 19 breadbuns (provided you can count, I somehow ended up with 18!) and in my opinion it’s also a bit of a showstoper. Lovely and golden on the outside, soft and light on the inside and then in the middle there is a surprise …. soft onion and gooey cheese. Yum!
You will need about 3 hours and:
450g strong white flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon caster sugar
7g fast action dried yeast
300ml lukewarm water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
120g mature cheddar, grated
First sift the flour and sugar into a large bowl and stir in the yeast. I put this in bold because on my first attempt I forgot to stir in the yeast, a rather vital ingredient, and didn’t realise until I started kneading, so I had to start all over again.
Pour the water and a tablespoon of oil into the dry mixture. You don’t want a sticky dough so I would about 250 ml of the water at first and then more as required until you have a nice soft dough. Cover this with clingfilm (or a couple of supermarket carrier bags if you don’t have any) and leave it to rest for about 10 minutes.
Dust your worktop with flour and knead the dough for about 5 minutes until it is quite elastic. Shape into a ball and leave in a large oiled bowl, covered with oiled clingfilm, to rise for an hour.
Whilst your dough is rising gently cook the onions in a bit of oil until they are soft but not coloured.
After an hour, knead the dough some more and then divide into 19 equally sized chunks.
On by one, flatten these out, place a small amount of onion and grated cheese in the centre and wrap the dough around it to make a ball. You should use up all of the onion and about 50g of cheese for this, leaving the other 70g to sprinkle on top.
Once you have your 19 balls arrange them in a honeycomb formation on a large baking tray lined with baking paper. Start with 5 in a row and then add 4 on either side, then 3. Remember that they will increase in size as they bake so leave a gap of around 2cm between each one.
Cover the baking tray with a large upturned roasting tin and leave to rise for another 30 – 40 minutes, until they have doubled in size. Then spirnkle with the remaining cheese and place in a preheated oven (190°C/375°F/gas mark 5) for 30 minutes, rotating the baking tray after 15.
Once they are cooked brush with oil and leave to cool on a wire tray, whilst all your guest clap and cheer at your impressive feat!