I love fresh baked bread, I love blue cheese, today I combined the two. I was successful at making a rustic (mostly) whole wheat loaf with blue cheese.
For this loaf I started with a Biga. Biga is type of fermentation originating in Italy. Even though the main dough has yeast added to it the Italian loaf often starts with a Biga. It’s thought that this double fermentation adds complexity to the flavor.
For the Biga combine:
1 cup of water (room temperature)
2 cups of regular flour
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of instant yeast
Combine this until it’s smooth. let it rest at room temperature over night. The following morning you’ll see bubbles on the surface.
Dissolve a scant teaspoon of salt in 1/2 cup of water, add 1/2 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper, and add the mixture to the biga and combine until it’s smooth. Begin mixing in flour, I went with half whole wheat and half unbleached white, you can combine whatever flours you like. You’ll mix in a total of 2 to 3 cups. When it becomes a ‘dough’ turn it out onto a floured surface and kneed it until it’s smooth, working in flour as needed. It took me about 5 minutes of kneading to get a smooth consistency. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turn it to make sure all sides are greased, cover the bowl and let the dough rise until it’s doubled in size.
When the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto the counter, divide it into two portions. Push each portion into a flat oval shape and cover it with small chunks of blue cheese. Roll the oval into a loaf. Make sure to squeeze and knead a bit as you do this, you wan’t to push out any air pockets that the cheese creates and combine it with the dough. Once you have shaped the dough into two loaves place place them on a greased baking sheet. Cover them and let them rise for about an hour, again until they are doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slash the top of the loaves to create vents and visual interest. Bake them for about 15 minutes and then brush the tops with olive oil. Bake them for another 5 to 10 minutes. The cheese will begin to seep out of the vents, they will be well browned, and they will have a somewhat hollow sound when you thump them. I know that’s arbitrary, but it’s like kneading, you just have to get a feel for it.
Once the bread cools in, dive in while it’s still warm!
Until next time… Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!