Paul’s Roquefort and walnut-filled loaf

Bread comes after biscuits and traybakes (in the bakebook), which means it’s time for a bread recipe.

But which do I do?

Do I do a saffron loaf or a super complicated Moroccan plaited wreath? Do I do a super simple bread or finally tackle doughnuts?

Considering the fact that it’s just started to snow, I decided to avoid doughnuts (which will most likely involve some sort of outdoor deep-fryer set-up), and instead opted for something that my sister and her family will enjoy.

Why? Because my sister and her family are the only people I know who love blue cheese.

And this recipe calls for a blue cheese.

And they’re free for a bread drop-off later today.

What kind of blue cheese? Roquefort, specifically. (Sounds more like a character in The Musketeers than a cheese, but I digress.)

I’m only just now noticing how many of the bread recipes are Paul’s; and most notably how many of the complicated bread recipes are Paul’s.

Enough of the pre-amble. Time to catch you up.

I started by going out to the grocery store and stocking up on yeast, rye flour and Roquefort. Unfortunately I only found Danish blue cheese, Gorgonzola and generic “blue cheese.” I opted for the latter (read: the cheapest). Then I came home and got started.

First by measuring out the bread flour. Then by adding the rye flour.

Then, as directed, I put the salt on side of the bowl of mixed flours and the yeast on the other side of the bowl of mixed flours.

Then I added 250 ml of the required 350 ml of water.

And mixed that in by hand.

According to Paul, I was to add as much of the rest of the water as needed to form a soft dough. Apparently rye flour require more water than regular flour. The dough seemed fine without adding all of the water, though, so I turned it out and started kneading by hand.

Here’s the thing, though: I’ve been having some wrist problems as of late. Either they’re not strong enough or I’m slowly giving myself carpal tunnel with all of the typing and texting that I do so I didn’t quite feel strong enough kneading by hand for the full 10 minutes. (I only managed five.) Plus, this dough is really tough. I don’t know if I added too much flour or if it’s just because it’s rye flour, but it was not getting elastic.

I even tried the trick where you smash the dough onto the countertop. It didn’t help. So I thought I’d pull out my KitchenAid and attach the dough hook and let that run while I chopped up the walnuts.

It, however, didn’t want to cooperate. Possibly because it thought it had a snow day. Possibly because this older second-hand model is a waste of counter space. But whatever the reason, this kept happening:

Needless to say, I swore.

So I stopped the machine and focused on getting the walnuts ready.

Two-hundred grams of the stuff.

Chopped.

Now the question: how on earth do you add the walnuts into the dough.

Paul says to just “continue kneading until they are incorporated.”

Okay, Paul. If you say so.

I tried that, and the walnuts were (a) stabbing me in the hands and (b) kept falling out of the tough dough.

So I thought maybe if I hold the bowl so it doesn’t fall off of its mount, I could incorporate the nuts into the dough using the KitchenAid.

That didn’t really work either. All that got incorporated was the walnut dust, but the dough just pushed all the walnuts to the edge of the bowl. I even tried adding the rest of the water to loosen things up. Nothing.

So then I had to try and brave it by hand again. And add in more flour because I added too much water.

Why, Paul? Why do you do this to me?

This isn’t nearly as bad as the chocolate cherry loaf (remember how horrifying that was?), but it’s still really difficult!

Every time I went to fold the dough around the walnuts, walnuts fell out of the other side of the dough, so I would fold it again and hear a regular “clink clink clink” of walnuts hitting the counter and floor.

I have no idea how this dough will turn out. The rye made it tough (I assume) and the walnuts will make it heavy (right?), so this may be a flat and dense disaster.

I think that’s good enough.

There’s no way to keep all the pieces in the dough. It’s incorporated enough and I just want to move on.

Placed into a lightly oiled bowl, this is ready to rise (I hope) for an hour or two.

*an hour and a bit later*

I have to admit, I’m pretty pleased with the rise of this weird dough.

According to Paul, I’m to turn the dough out onto a floured surface and then push it down with the heels of my hands, then with knuckles and fingertips, all whilst folding the dough in on itself a few times.

I ended up with this beauty:

I then sliced it up into four more or less equal pieces before splitting up the blue cheese into four equal portions.

Blue cheese just seems so wrong to me. I am sure I’ll like this bread, but it’s got mould in it. On purpose.

Oh well. Good thing my sister’s family loves it.

Following Paul’s instructions, I rolled out one piece of dough into a rectangle, or at least a rectangular oval.

Then I sprinkled a quarter of the cheese close to one long edge.

And rolled it up like a Swiss roll, pinching the dough the whole time.

Then I did that three more times.

Oops. Blurry photo!

Now for a confession, I rolled it into a coil (like Paul tells me to later) and tried to put it into the oiled springclip cake tin and it was such a pathetic little coil. That’s when I remembered to read the instructions a little closer and found this tip after you’ve Swiss rolled:

“Continue rolling under your hands until the dough is a 25 cm-long sausage.”

That makes more sense.

Although rolling was a little tricky.

As you can see in the photo, I lost a few more walnuts. And the blue cheese almost came out because, even though it was pinched shut, the walnuts really don’t help things. They make the dough holey! In the end, I mostly stretched them instead of rolling them because I didn’t want to unroll them, but however it happened, it worked!

And I was able to arrange the four coils in a four-leaf clover shape.

Time for another hour of proofing.

*one hour later*

Another hour is gone. The oven is preheated. Let’s see what became of the four-leaf clover.

Not too shabby!

I hope the bread keeps expanding to fill up the rest of the tin. And to look like the photo. I assume it will. I hope it will.

A quick egg wash and this thing is ready to bake for another 45-50 minutes.

Boy oh boy this is a long bake! I’m glad I’m doing this on a Sunday afternoon and not a weekday evening.

You’re very patient, sis!

*just over 45 minutes later*

Near the end of the baking time I started to smell something akin to burning, so I took a peek and realized the cheese had oozed out in bits and was busy baking to the bottom of the tin. I didn’t want to pull this out too early, though, and have raw dough (there’s nothing worse, according to Paul), but I also didn’t want to smoke out my place with burnt cheese.

I decided to risk it and leave it in for a few more minutes. The cheese was brown baked on, not yet black, so I knew I had time.

The timer beeped and I waited a couple more minutes before pulling it out and tapping on the top to listen for a hollow sound.

It sounded okay; although I was worried about the bubbly, oozy cheesy bits.

Ten minutes of cooling in the tin followed by a few more minutes of cooling outside of the tin seemed like enough time to me. I wrapped it up in a towel and parchment paper and inside half a gift box. (Honestly, though, how do people transport freshly baked bread? I need to get some bread baskets or picnic baskets like Red Riding Hood.)

Warm bread greeted my sister’s family post-sledding, but I couldn’t figure out how to slice it. I chose to rip apart the coils to end up with four bun-like loaves that could be easily sliced. Good thing I did that, too, because I myself had three slices.

I had no idea I would like blue cheese, but it was such a good flavour with the rye flour and walnuts.

Her family loved it too, so this one passes with flying colours!

(Also I checked with my sister who also enjoys a good bake and rye flour is a harder one to knead. My instinct was correct.)

Bonus story: When I asked my two-year-old nephew if he liked blue cheese, he said, “Yup! And I like green cheese, and purple cheese, and pink cheese.” It’s clear he has no idea what blue cheese is. He just eats it because it’s cheese.

I can relate.

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