Cheese, cranberry and thyme fondue star
- December 2020
- Serves 8
- Hands-on time 40 min, oven time 25-30 min, plus rising and proving
This fun, savoury Christmas bake is indulgent, comforting and equally delicious served as a snack with drinks or with a hearty bowl of soup.
Or, try serving these Nutcracker-themed piroshki as a Christmas Eve snack.
- 18.4g fat (10.9g saturated)
- 21.1g protein
- 51.6g carbs (4.5g sugars)
- 2.2g fibre
- 1.3g salt
- 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 275ml whole milk, warmed slightly, plus extra cold milk to glaze
- 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra to dust
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 2 medium free-range eggs, beaten separately
- 50g unsalted butter, softened
- 3 tbsp cranberry sauce, plus extra to serve
- 5 tbsp freshly grated parmesan or grana padano (or a vegetarian hard cheese if you need it to be)
- A few fresh thyme sprigs, leaves picked and finely chopped, plus extra strands to garnish if you like
- 1 whole camembert or other round melting cheese (vegetarian if you need it to be)
You’ll also need
- Large baking sheet lined with compostable baking paper
- Dissolve the yeast and sugar in a little of the warmed milk in a cup. Put the flour, yeast/sugar mixture and salt in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook or large mixing bowl. Add 1 beaten egg, the remaining warmed milk and the butter. If using a stand mixer, mix on a low speed until combined, then turn up the speed to medium and mix for another 5 minutes until you have a smooth, elastic dough. If mixing by hand, use a round-bladed dinner knife to mix the ingredients together to form a dough, then tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
- Leave the dough in the bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently knead once or twice to remove any large air pockets, then divide and shape into 4 equal balls of dough (try to be as accurate as you can – you can weigh the dough pieces to get it right).
- Roll out each piece of dough into a circle, as if making a pizza base. The dough may spring back a little at first, but persist until each piece is 28cm across, or the same size as a dinner plate (the circles need to be very similar in size for the star to work).
- Lay 1 dough circle on the lined baking sheet, spread with 1 tbsp cranberry sauce, a sprinkle of grated cheese and a few thyme leaves, then lay another dough circle on top and repeat with the cranberry and grated cheese. Put the camembert or other round cheese in the middle of the circle, then arrange a third dough circle on top. Layer with the remaining cranberry sauce and most of the remaining cheese, then top with the final dough circle.
- Gently shape the dough around the round cheese and press down to remove any air pockets then, using a sharp knife, make 4 cuts from the edge of the cheese to the edge of the dough circle (imagine a clock face and make a cut at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock). Cut each of the 4 segments you’ve created in half to make 8, then again to make 16 strands.
- Pick up 2 strands of dough next to each other, lift and twist one strand clockwise twice, then twist the other strand counterclockwise twice to expose the layers. Replace the strands on the baking sheet, aligning the layers and pinching the strands together where the layers meet at the outer edge of the strands to form a point. Repeat with the other strands around the star.
- Brush the star with most of the other beaten egg, then leave to prove in the fridge (see Make Ahead) or at room temperature for 30-40 minutes.
- Heat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas 5. Brush the star with a little more beaten egg, then bake for 30 minutes until the bread is golden and baked through and the cheese is oozing. Serve straightaway, dusted with more grated cheese and strands of fresh thyme, if you like (see tip).
If you don’t eat all the bread on the day you bake it, you can warm it up in a moderate oven the next day – it will still be wonderful for breakfast or with soup for lunch. You can also freeze it and defrost to enjoy another day.
Watch our video below to master the technique of plaiting the star.
Chill the assembled, ready-to-bake star in a proving bag up to a few hours ahead. The star will slow-prove in the fridge, but allow it come up to room temperature for 15 minutes or so before baking.
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