Cheddar and caramelised onion tear and share loaf

Preparation time: 15 minutes + resting
Cooking time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

500g Strong White Bread Flour
7g / 1 teaspoon / 1 sachet – fast action yeast
7g / 1 teaspoon fine salt
350ml lukewarm water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 large white onions – peeled, halved and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
A large nob of butter
Fresh rosemary and thyme
100g strong cheddar – finely grated

Featured in:
October 2016

As a writer for a magazine, one usually submits one’s articles a month or two prior to publication. For a recipe writer this means that, on occasion, I need to judge what the weather and the mood of the time of year will be. Last October I got it completely wrong, as it was incredibly warm, and this year the mild autumn weather looks likely to repeat itself. That said, Old Father Time waits for no one and October will still have its usual festivities. I cannot wait for Halloween and this loaf is perfect for sharing, served warm from the oven. Ideal on its own or wonderful dipped into a bubbling pot of tomato soup to be sipped on the doorstep breathing in the autumn air!

Start with the onions – in a large pan, heat the olive oil and butter and throw in the onions and the sugar and stir around until all the onions are coated, then turn the heat down and let them gently sweat and simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid the onions sticking.

After 30 min, add the fresh herbs and plenty of salt and pepper and stir in. Leave on the heat for another 30 min or until the onions are a dark golden brown and gloriously sticky and caramelised. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the flour, yeast and salt with the water and stir together using a rubber spatula. Turn out onto a well floured surface and knead for 10 min until soft and elastic (this process can be done really easily in a stand mixer with a dough hook, for 15 min).

Oil a large bowl, add the dough, cover tightly with cling film and set aside to prove for at least 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Take a roasting tin (roughly 12in x 8in) and oil it very generously and set aside.

After your dough has had its first prove, liberally oil a large work surface and turn the dough out onto this. Using your oiled hands, spread the dough out to form a thin, rough rectangle, roughly 20in x 12in. The dough will be elastic and want to spring back but leave it for a few minutes and then go back to it and gently tease it larger.

Take your caramelised onion and tip it onto the dough rectangle and evenly spread it out covering the entire surface, then sprinkle on the grated cheese, followed by some more fresh herbs and salt and pepper.

Carefully roll the long edge up the work surface, creating a long roll of dough and onions, then cut this into sections, each one roughly 3in wide and place these into your oiled roasting tin until it’s full. Cover the tin with oiled cling film and set aside to prove for 30 min and turn your oven on and set to 200C.

After 30 min, remove the cling film and place the bread into the oven for 10 min on 200C and then a further 20 min on 180C.

Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely before eating.

Eat and of course, enjoy!

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