For the brown loaf
- 400g malted grain brown bread flour, or wholemeal or granary bread flour
- 100g strong white bread flour
- 7g sachet easy-bake dried yeast (or 2 tsp Quick dried yeast)
Yeast is a living, single-cell organism. As the yeast grows, it converts its food (in the form…
- 1½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp soft butter
Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…
For the flavouring
- 1 large onion, cut into thin wedges
Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…
- 1 tbsp olive oil
Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…
- 1 beaten egg
The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition, packed with protein and a…
- 50g grated mature cheddar
Once cheddar was 'Cheddar', a large, hard-pressed barrel of cheese made by a particular…
Mix your choice of brown flour with the white, the yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl. Put in the butter and rub it into the flour. Stir in the seeds if using. Make a dip in the centre of the flour and pour in almost 300ml hand warm (cool rather than hot) water, with a round-bladed knife. Then mix in enough of the remaining water and a bit more if needed, to gather up any dry bits in the bottom of the bowl and until the mixture comes together as a soft, not too sticky, dough. Gather it into a ball with your hands.
Put the dough on to a very lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 mins until it feels smooth and elastic, only adding the minimum of extra flour if necessary to prevent the dough sticking. Place the ball of dough on a lightly floured work surface. Cover with an upturned, clean, large glass bowl and leave for 45 mins-1 hr or until doubled in size and feels light and springy. Timing will depend on the warmth of the room.
Knock back the dough by lightly kneading just 3-4 times. You only want to knock out any large air bubbles, so too much handling now will lose the dough’s lightness. Shape into a ball. Cover with the glass bowl and leave for 15 mins.
Fry the onion in the olive oil until very lightly caramelised, then leave to cool. Cut the dough in half and shape into 2 balls. Cover with the glass bowl and leave for 15 mins. Shape by flattening each ball into an 18cm round, put each on a large baking tray lined with baking parchment. Make 6 deepish cuts with a sharp knife to mark each round into 6 wedges. Cover with a clean tea towel. Leave for 40-45 mins, or until doubled in size. Finish by brushing with beaten egg, scatter over the onion, then the grated cheese.
Put a roasting tin in the bottom of the oven 20 mins before ready to bake and heat oven to 230C/210C fan/gas 8. Put the risen bread in the oven, carefully pour about 250ml cold water into the roasting tin (this will hiss and create a burst of steam to give you a crisp crust), then lower the heat to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Bake for 30-35 mins or until golden. If the onion is getting too brown, lay a piece of parchment over the top. Remove and cool on a wire rack. If you tap the underneath of the loaf if should be firm and sound hollow.