This sinfully delicious bread is one that Kathy from Empty Nest Bakery brings to the Hillsborough Farmers’ Market every week as her customers never seem to have enough of it. I made it yesterday afternoon, using her formula. Since I had started late, it was close to bed time when it came out of the oven but the fragrance was such that the Man kept circling the cooling loaves and if it hadn’t still been too hot for comfort, I believe he would sneaked one under his pillow against a late night snack attack. As it is, he will have it for breakfast and it will be a treat!
The proportions are based on one loaf weighing 560g before baking. I multiplied them by three and each of my loaves weighed about 555 g before baking and an average of 550g after.
For the dough
226g unbleached bread flour (I used all-purpose)
90 g mature starter (hydration rate: 80%)
153g water (counting the water present in the starter, the bread hydration rate is 70%)
5.52 g salt
41g grated Asiago cheese
28g onions, peeled, sliced and slowly caramelized in olive oil (either in the oven or on the stovetop)
11g garlic olive oil
5.5 g chives, rinsed, drained and chopped
For the topping
30g onions, peeled, sliced and slowly caramelized in olive oil
7g roasted garlic (I didn’t have any garlic so I used garlic powder)
50g Asiago cheese, grated (or 30g Mozzarella and 20g Asiago) (I used Asiago plus the fresh goat cheese I had left over from the Nuke-the-Zuke Quick Bread)
- Put flour, 90% of the water and starter in the bowl of the mixer and mix until just incorporated
- Let rest, covered, for 30 minutes (autolyse)
- Add the salt and mix on low speed for 5 minutes or until gluten is developed to improved mix (when taking a piece of dough in wet hands and stretching it gently in all directions, you should be able to see translucent and opaque areas and the dough doesn’t tear readily, adding the rest of the water as necessary to get a medium soft consistency
- Slowly incorporate the garlic oil, then the cheese, onion and chives
- Transfer dough to oiled bucket and cover tightly (it should be tacky and soft)
- Let ferment at warmish room temperature for 2 to 3 hours (or until the dough, when poked, keeps the imprint of your finger)
- Turn the dough out on a slightly oiled surface and pre-shape as a boule
- Let it rest 20 minutes
- Shape as a tight boule and let it proof on a piece of parchment paper (dusted with semolina flour or corn meal) under plastic sheet for 1 hour at warmish room temperature
- Turn on the oven to 450F/232C taking care to put an empty metal pan on the lower shelf
- When the boule is ready, massage it with olive oil, dimpling it with your fingers
- Spread the topping on it
- Score in a circle all around the topping (Oops! I actually forgot that step!)
- Pour a cup of cold water into the empty metal pan and slide the boule directly on the baking stone
- Spray the oven generously with cold water
- Bake for 25 minutes, check the loaf, if necessary tent a piece of foil over the top to prevent burning
- Bake 5 to 10 minutes longer for a total of 35 minutes
- Let cool on a wire rack and use a lot of self-restraint not to tear into it before it is cold!
And here is one of the loaves I baked yesterday using Kathy’s formula:
- My starter was not quite mature enough. I had fed it the afternoon before leaving for the night but it got very cold in the house (it was in the low 50’s when I came back the following day) and the starter looked quite dormant. I put it in front of a space heater to wake it up and waited about 3 hours before mixing but still, it might have used a little bit more fermentation time.
- As mentioned before, I didn’t use the same flour as Kathy. I am curious to see what will happen when I use a stronger (more gluten-rich) flour.
So next time, I’ll go for half bread flour and half all-purpose flour and the next time still, all bread flour. And then of course I’ll try again with various percentages of white whole wheat flour. I’ll report back, so stay tuned! The formula is definitely a keeper whichever flour is used. Thank you, Kathy, for sharing it!