Brie in Fresh Baked Bread
So there is this show on the Food Network called Chef Academy with a professional chef that guides a team of amateur chefs through all sorts of misadventures. Or something–I haven’t seen it myself. But I was told there is an episode that features a wheel of brie baked into a loaf of homemade bread. And I thought it might be fun to try making it.
Notes: This is a very, very basic bread recipe. The best recipes usually call for an overnight rise in the fridge, or at the very least 3-4 hours on the countertop, and less yeast. I was in a bit of a hurry when I made this and I found a 1-1.5 hour rise is all it needed. It’s not a complex artisan bread by any means, but it’s pretty damn tasty. You can leave the brie out entirely if you want an easy introduction to homemade bread without crazy recipes or complicated machinery. I know there are a lot of steps, but it’s really quite simple.
Also, that bread in the picture was not MY bread. That picture is from the Internet. Don’t be looking for that bread as a final product.
Homemade Bread with a Baked Brie Center
- 3 1/2 cups of flour (all-purpose is fine)
- 1 tbsp active dry yeast
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 cups lukewarm water
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 wheel of brie (the 200g size worked fine, you can probably find one for $7 bucks)
- 1 tbsp cornmeal
- Your favorite herbs. Dried oregano, rosemary and thyme would probably work well.
- Set aside that 1/2 cup of flour for later.
- Stir the 1/2 tsp. of sugar into the water to dissolve. Sprinkle the yeast into the water and let stand for 5-10 minutes until it gets a little foamy.
- While yeast is foaming, combine the salt and remaining 3 cups of flour in your largest mixing bowl.
- Make a little well in the center of the flour and slowly add the water/yeast/sugar mixture. Grab a wooden spoon and combine.
- Stir until the mixture comes together into a shaggy, fairly sticky dough. There should be enough liquid to allow all of the loose flour to combine. You may end up with a little bit on the bottom of the bowl–don’t sweat it.
- Turn the dough out on to the countertop (it won’t be there long, don’t worry). Wash the bowl and pour that tbsp of oil into the bottom. Move the dough back to the bowl and toss it around in the oil to get it totally coated.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rise at room temperature for an hour.
- After an hour, check out the dough. It should have risen pretty well by now–at least doubled in size. If you have the time, let it go for another 30 minutes to an hour. If you don’t have the time, it’s not a big deal.
- Remember that 1/2 cup of flour we didn’t use? Dust the countertop with a light coating of the flour and dump the dough into the middle. Sprinkle more of the flour on top and gently knead with your hands (to prevent it sticking to much to your fingers, wet them first). Knead for maybe two minutes to bring it together and smooth it out. Keep your touches light, but firm.
- Spread the dough into a rough square shape, about 12 inches by 12 inches, and smear a light coat of oil into the center. Top that oil with your oregano, rosemary and thyme.
- Unwrap your brie and place it in the center. Fold the edges over the brie. Don’t worry about how it looks, just try to keep it even.
- Get out a baking sheet and lightly sprinkle the cornmeal over it. This will prevent the dough from sticking to the pan as it bakes (and potentially letting the cheese out).
- Carefully flip your uncooked loaf on to the pan, folded side down. The top layer of dough will likely be bit thin so grab the dough at the edges of the loaf and gently stretch some of it out. Fold those flaps on to the surface of the loaf and pinch them together so they keep their place.
- Whew. That’s it. Hard work is done. Cover the loaf with a damp dishtowel (clean, please) and go have a beer. Come back in 45 minutes.
- Slide it into the oven for 25 minutes, or until nicely browned. When it’s done, you should be able to tap the top of the loaf with your fingers and hear a “hollow” sound.
- This is very important–let the loaf rest for 30 minutes. If you cut into it now the bread will be unpleasantly steamy and chewy. You have to let it cool a bit. Don’t worry, the cheese will still be meltey and good.
- Cut down the middle and impress the hell out of your friends.
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