Sunday, March 30, 2014

Cheese bread with field garlic

Picnic in the rain

When I was little my mother baked a rustic, cheesy loaf I loved (especially toasted, smeared with love-it-or-hate-it Marmite). Recently, I asked her if she remembered it, but she drew a blank. I think this picture will remind her!

I searched 'cheese bread' images on the web and found one that looked exactly like the loaf of memory, and perfect for my purposes - it even included chives: I wanted a transportable treat for the attendees of my Inwood Field Garlic Walk, and chives are very close cousins indeed of the 'weed' that pops up in front laws and in open ground and woodland, everywhere.

The chives, of course, became field garlic.

Garlic mustard and field garlic

The walk itself was wet, and everyone was a bit shivery by the time we took a break beside the dull mudflats - the tide was out - of Spuyten Duyvil Creek to share the fresh bread. We topped the slices with field garlic butter I had made the previous night, and the last of 2013's garlic mustard pesto (frozen till now). We ate, huddled and damp, cheering up with each mouthful of the cheesy, garlicky bread.

Garlic mustard pesto

In style this bread  is really more like a giant scone. It uses baking powder, not yeast, for leavening, and is best eaten fresh, within 24 hours, and later, as the toast I loved when I was small. It is still excellent with Marmite.

In a nod to our South African campsite baking adventures, I added beer, and I changed some quantities.

Cheese Bread with Field Garlic

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour ( I use King Arthur, unbleached)
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Back pepper
3 large eggs
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup beer (I used some leftover Duvel), plus a little extra
3 oz coarsely grated Gruyère
2 oz cheddar, cut into very small cubes (about 1/4")
3/4 cup minced fresh field garlic greens (or chives)
Coarse salt to sprinkle on the top of the loaf

Preheat the oven 350'F/180'C. Butter or oil a loaf pan (or muffin trays, for that matter,  if you'd like individual servings. They will bake much faster).

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk the eggs until foamy.  Add the milk, olive oil and the beer. Stir to combine. Pour this mixture over the dry ingredients and stir gently till well mixed. Add the cheeses and chive and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. The mixture should be quite stiff, but if it is still a little too dry to turn easily with the spoon, add another slug or two of beer. Do not overmix, or it will become a brick.

Pour the bread mixture into the prepared pan,  making a shallow hollow down the middle of the dough, lengthways. Sprinkle the top lightly with coarse salt.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and gently tip the loaf from its pan. Place on a cooling rack. It can be eaten right away.

Cheese and field garlic bread with field garlic butter



  1. Oh, this looks so delicious, I will definitely try it. I have a recipe for a Zucchini, Feta & Thyme loaf that is also made with baking powder. It's delicious toasted with a lovely bowl of soup & a salad. If you're interested in the recipe, please let me know & I'll forward it to you.

  2. I have lots of chives in my garden, and now I know what to do with them in early summer, after they flower.

  3. This cheese bread looks homey and cheerful and hard to resist. I will surely try it. Thank you for the recipe.

  4. Interesting - I thought for sure this would be a yeasted bread! May attempt it sometime with GF flour. Wish I could join your walk...


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