For a spot of weekend baking, why not give my Autumnal Stilton and Walnut Bread a go? It’s one of my favourite breads and I hope you will enjoy making it too…
Stilton and Walnuts are a perfect combination – and blue cheese always makes me think of Autumn and Winter. My maternal grandfather – born in 1912 – used to reminisce of his childhood where his parents would buy a large round of Stilton cheese for Christmas. Beautifully marbled with blue veins, it would sit in the centre of the dining table throughout the season, covered so that it could be splintered and served at any given moment.
My own son, Joe, is such an avid fan of blue cheese that his mother had to buy extra when they recently stayed in a holiday cottage in Scotland with some friends. I blame Father Christmas. Joe has traditionally received a chunk of Dolcelatte from Father Christmas, delivered to my parent’s house each year for them to pass on to him in his Christmas stocking. You can keep your tangerines and chocolate oranges – blue cheese is the highlight of Joe’s festive stocking!
I wanted to get the flavours of stilton and walnut in a loaf of crusty bread and so I developed this recipe. I have made it in many forms over the years but I have recently discovered a new way of baking it which ensures perfect results every time.
In the last few years, a method has been doing the rounds on the internet for a no-knead loaf of bread. You simply mix the ingredients together into a scraggy mess, before leaving to prove and baking, enclosed in a cast iron pan (or Dutch oven). Now, I have tried this recipe (handily available via google) and I can confirm that it works very well. However, I think a big part of its success is the method of baking inside a preheated cast iron pan. This creates a kind of steam bath for the dough to bake in, ensuring a beautiful crispy crust and a deliciously fluffy inner. I now use this method every time to bake this bread and I am sure you will too once you have tried it out.Print
- 500g Strong Bread Flour
- 175ml milk
- 100ml water
- 1 x 7g sachet easy bake yeast (or 1 heaped tsp)
- 1 tsp salt flakes
- 140g stilton cheese, coarsely grated
- 75g walnuts
- 1 large handful flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
- Pour 100ml of water from a recently boiled kettle into the fridge-cold milk. This should result in a liquid which is just slightly warm. Tip in the yeast and whisk together with a fork to combine. Place to one side for about 10 minutes, by which time it should have turned frothy with a cloudy top.
- I like to use a freestanding electric mixer with a dough hook, but you can follow this next stage by hand if you so wish.
- Put the teaspoon of salt at the bottom of the bowl and measure in the flour on top. When the liquid has turned frothy, pour this over the top of the flour and mix to bring everything together. Knead until you have a silkly-smooth dough – about 3-5 mins in the mixer or 10 minutes if making by hand. Remove the dough and form into a ball before returning to the bowl, covering and leaving somewhere warm to prove for around 60 minutes. I like to prove my dough in the oven with the light on and door closed – I find the bulb provides sufficient heat to create the ideal environment.
- When the 60 minutes is up, the dough should have doubled in size. Uncover the bowl and punch the dough to knock all the air out. Lightly knead the dough for a few seconds and roll out into a large oblong shape – roughly 40 x 30 cm in size.
- Coarsely grate the stilton and chop the walnuts so that they are about the size of a little finger nail. Finely chop the flat leaf parsley and fork through the nuts and cheese in a cereal bowl. Sprinkle this mix evenly over the dough before rolling everything up from the longest edge, so that it resembles a long swiss roll. Bring the ends together and lightly knead the dough for a minute or so, until the cheese and nuts are rippled throughout. Tuck everything underneath so that you are left with a smooth ball of dough, punctuated with the occasional walnut fragment.
- Grab your cast iron saucepan – making sure that the one you are using is oven proof and does not have plastic handles. Cut a sheet of greaseproof paper so that you have a piece that is large enough to fit inside the bottom of the pan and up the sides – providing a bit of an overhang at the top. Use the pan lid to draw a circle in the centre of the sheet of paper, before placing the pan inside the oven to preheat at the same time as the oven. You want to set the temperature to 240C/475F/Gas Mark 9 and allow pan and oven to heat up for at least 30 mins.
- While the oven is heating up, the bread needs to have its second prove. Dust the greaseproof paper and a large clean mixing bowl with a little flour, and place the ball of dough in the centre of the circle you have drawn. Lightly dust the top of the dough with a little more flour and cover with the floured bowl. Leave in a warm place to prove for 30 minutes so that the dough doubles in size again.
- After 30 minutes, carefully lift the pan out of the very hot oven and rest on a trivet. Working quickly, remove the lid and gently lower the sheet of greaseproof paper and risen dough ball into the hot pan. Replace the lid and put the pan back into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes with the pan covered before removing the lid and completing the bake for a further 15 minutes.
- When the baking time is up, remove the pan from the oven and use the overhang of the greaseproof paper to carefully lift the loaf of bread out of the pan. You will have a beautifully golden loaf with the perfect crust. Allow to cool on a rack for at least 45 minutes before slicing to eat.
- Store the bread in an airtight container.
- Prep Time: 40 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Category: Bread, Baking
- Cuisine: Bread
Keywords: baking, stilton, crusty bread, walnuts, blue cheese, bread