For a while I have been super excited by the plethora of ingredients that have been at my disposal. First it was some rye flour, then some lovely new pans, followed by a brand new stand-mixer. . . Christmas has really come early. There was one more bag in my pantry I have been waiting to use. For those following my culinary adventures, you’d probably already know that I love my semolina bread, and I bake it ever so often, but without the semolina flour. Semolina bread without the semolina flour?, you ask. I use the locally available semolina (I buy the finest variety that I can) and I have had nothing to complain about. In fact the bread has been delicious. But then, a chance to make a semolina bread with real semolina flour is not something I am going to let pass me by. So this golden flour came out of my pantry to be used in one of the most delicious breads that I have eaten. It has only 1 cup of semolina flour and 2 cups of regular all-purpose flour. This leaves me more than enough leftover to try my regular recipe. But for now, time for something different. The flour is slightly gritty but eventually turns into this lovely pliable dough, which almost feels alive in your hands. It is springy and lends itself to be shaped beautifully. Now, to take something this good and take it to the next level requires some amount of bravery and foolishness in equal parts. I had seen this recipe on ‘King Arthur’s Flour’ website ages ago and dismissed it 1. because I did not have semolina flour and 2. All the cheese that the recipe asked for. Like I said, my pantry is fully stocked now, so it was time to give this bread a go.The recipe basically called for three different kinds of cheese. I used Asiago, Parmesan and Sharp Cheddar. You can go ahead and use any kind of cheese as long as it is sharp. The soft, mild or creamy kind are not really ideal for this recipe. Save that to eat on its own. You can even use a single kind if that is what you like. Make sure though, that the cheese is chopped in at least half-inch bits. You will see why soon.The recipe calls for some Pizza Flavouring. Now what on earth is Pizza flavouring? Did someone actually bottle up the flavour and sell it? Considering that I have seen Biryani flavouring on the shelf, I am not surprised that someone has a pizza equivalent! Since I have never seen it, I just went on to add a touch of oregano and basil to the dough (my idea of adding pizza flavour. You could also add some finely chopped garlic.). This dough rises beautifully and one trick that I have learnt over the years is to use a rubber band to mark the initial height of the dough, so you will know when exactly it doubles. Many bread bakers have huge plastic tubs, with markings, dedicated just for this purpose. This is my makeshift version.
Semolina has a reputation for a tremendous amount of oven spring. So to play it really safe I used a much longer pan than I usually would. It was perfect. For not only did I get smaller slices of bread (This bread is super tasty but also super filling), I also did not have cheesy accidents of the cheese bits bubbling over and burning. The final loaf was golden with bits of toasted cheese, boldly announcing its presence. And the smell, Oh God! It felt warm and cosy and cheese toasty all at once.
And when I sliced it, the crumb looked oh so beautiful. I wish my ciabattas looked like this. Before you get all excited about how I managed to achieve that crumb, let me make it clear. It was not my doing. It was the cheese that did it. Every cube that went into the dough, melted in the heat and left a lovely little cheesy hole and bread that looked (and tasted) totally fabulous!
Now, as a bread lover, if that does not make you weak in your knees, nothing else will. Once you have your fill of eating it while it is still warm, it tastes like cheese toast (I must remember to add a touch of chilli next time, for a chilli cheese toast) save some bread for actual toast. or better still, a grilled sandwich. If like me, you wait for the cheese to bubble outside of the bread, in a grilled cheese, and sort of get all golden brown on the edges, from where you will pick off these bits to nibble on (it is the prerogative of the cook) you will love this! Imagine the grilled cheese is on the outside of the bread, instead of the inside. Now that is a thought for all you sandwich makers out there.
2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 cup Semolina Flour
2 tsp Instant Yeast
1 1/4 tsp Salt
2 Tbs Garlic oil or Olive oil
1/4 tsp Dried Basil
1/4 tsp Dried Oregano
1 to 1 1/4 Cups lukewarm water
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
1 cup diced Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 cup diced or coarsely crumbled Asiago cheese
You could use just one or two different cheeses and if you find that 3 cups in total is too much, you could reduce the quantity. But I loved it this way.
1. Mix all the ingredients for the dough (except the cheese) and knead till you get a soft and really supple dough.
2 Add the cheese to the dough and make sure that the cheese is well-distributed throughout the dough.
3. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover and wait for the dough to double.
4. Tip the dough out, gently de-gas the dough and form into a loaf.
5. Place in a lightly oiled or lined pan (sometimes the cheese can melt and stick) loosely cover and allow for a second rise, when the dough should double again.
6. Mist the top of the loaf with water and using a sharp knife make a few slashes on the surface.
7. immediately place in an oven pre-heated to 220C and bake for about 30 minutes until done.
8. If the bread looks like it is burning on the surface, tent it with foil to avoid excess colouring.
9. Remove bread from pan and cool completely before slicing. (I could not wait, so I cut into it while it was still slightly warm)
I still have some in my fridge. Wrapped in plastic, it will just dry out a bit. You can use it to make a lovely toast (my daughter pronounced it tasted like Welsh Rarebit) or if you are in a mood a grilled sandwich. Don’t add any more cheese to the filling. If there is still some left, make croutons to add a crunch to your salads. Little of this bread goes a long way.