It’s February. For me this usually means one thing: a lingering January blues. You know the January blues, right? The feeling you get right after New Year’s Eve? When all of the fun winter things have happened already but you still have to wait a really, really, really long time for summer? Well, I fall victim to it almost every year.
Not that I curl up in a ball and cry about it in a corner, it’s more like I very persistently feel the urgent need to, well, curl up, yes, but under a blanket next to the fireplace, sleeping until a flock of beautiful little birds wake me from my slumber and help me into a gorgeous sun dress because summer has finally arrived!
Okay, so I watched too much Disney as a kid. It’s not like it’s a crime or anything…
Anyway, I’ll admit: I sometimes succumb to my winter blues and snuggle under a blanket with the Rocking Rebel, little Lucy or both, trying my best to get myself into that magical hibernation mode and sleep until spring.
But – surprise, surprise – it’s impossible to fall asleep when the Rocking Rebel is constantly getting up for more prawn crackers or Lucy is trying to lick my face, going all hello-puppy-breath on me!
So, instead of hibernating I usually go with the next best thing when I’m half-felled by the winter blues. Eat lots of carby stuff!
My favorite? Bread. And this bread is just a little more special than others…
Because hey, this has got cheese in it!
And if pizza, lasagna, pasta, grilles cheese and other cheesy bits of heaven have taught us one thing, it is that cheese just makes everything better!
I used some old Gouda cheese in this bread, because that’s what I had in my fridge, but you can use any cheese you like! I have to say though: the old Gouda is really good!
Another thing: this is a no-knead bread, which – duh! – means no kneading. I used the dough to make five little, rustic bread rolls and they were amazing! I really liked the fact that there was more crust for me to bite into, because the crust is my favorite part of the bread. Any bread, that is. In fact, I’d almost call myself a crusty kind of girl, but that would just be really weird, right?
I’m not crusty. Trust me. My skin is smooth as a baby’s bottom…
And next week, my skin will be a little tanner too! Why, you ask? Well – stoked, stoked, stoked. Jumping up and down in excitement right now – I just booked a last minute trip to an all-inclusive resort on Gran Canaria! If you’re jealous, don’t be embarrassed: it’s only natural!
The last time I went anywhere was back in 2011, when the Rocking Rebel and I went backpacking in Vietnam and Cambodia, so I’m super excited about going! Mark my words, I’ll be writing my next post (Sunday as usual) on the beach, sipping a cocktail!
Enjoy the bread!
- 480g (or 3 to 3¾ cups) of all-purpose flour*
- 1 teaspoon of table salt
- ¼ teaspoon active-dry yeast
- 100g (or 1 cup) of flavorful grated cheese of choice, I used old Gouda
- 360ml (or 1½ cup) lukewarm water
- more flour for dusting
- semolina flour for dusting
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, yeast and cheese. Add the water and, using one hand, roughly mix the water into the dry ingredients. I usually hold one tablespoon of water back and add it after I've mixed a little to make sure even the flour on the bottom the bowl gets mixed in.The resulting dough will be very wet and sticky.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to sit on the countertop at room temperature for 18 to 24 hours. Once the dough has risen dramatically and the surface of the dough looks nice and bubbly, dust your counter generously with all-purpose flour. 'Pour' the dough, which will still be very wet, onto the floured surface, scraping the sides of the bowl with a wooden spoon. Dust the top of the dough with some more flour and gently lift and fold the dough over onto itself a couple of times.
- Cut the dough into 5 equal chunks and shape each piece of dough into a ball by tucking the sides of the dough underneath. Generously dust a baking sheet with flour, place the dough rolls on top and place the baking sheet in a large plastic bag. Leave the rolls to rest for another two hours or until doubled in size.
- In the meantime, preheat the oven to 230°C or 450°F (standard oven setting). Place a lidded Dutch oven or heavy cast iron pot in the oven as it heats up to get it piping hot.
- Once the dough has properly rested and the oven and the pot are hot, take the pot out of the oven, take the lid off and sprinkle some semolina flour in the pot. This will prevent the dough from sticking. Dust your hands with some all-purpose flour and carefully place two dough balls into the pot. Put the lid back on and place the pot back in the oven.
- After 20 minutes of baking, remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes. Take the pot out of the oven, then take the bread rolls out of the pot and leave them to cool on a wire rack for 1 hour before cutting into it.
- Discard the semolina flour and place the pot and the lid back in the oven to heat up again. If you skip this step, the next bread rolls won't rise as much.
- Once the pan and lid are hot again, sprinkle some more semolina flour in the pot and place two more dough balls in the pot. Cover with the lid and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, take the lid off and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
- Again, discard the semolina flour, reheat the pot and lid, sprinkle the bottom of the pot with semolina flour, place the last dough ball in the pot, cover with a lid and bake for 20 minutes, remove the lid and bake for another 15. Then remove from the oven and leave the bread rolls to cool for 1 hour before cutting into them. Enjoy!