As we enter the last month of the season I think it’s fair to say that we have had a summer this year in Britain. Traditionally 1 August marks the beginning of harvest time. Known as Lammas or Loaf Mass it was a time to give thanks for the first harvest. Originally it was a pagan festival but over time it became a religious festival with people going to church to give thanks. Now the festival of Lammas is largely forgotten although it is still observed in some areas of the country, like Eastbourne.
I can’t lay claim to harvesting my own wheat or corn but I do have plenty of bulbous onions in my garden. I’ve been toying with the idea of a savoury Chelsea/cinnamon bun for a while and eventually came up with this recipe. It takes all the elements for a good ploughman’s lunch (except for the pork pie) and combines them in a loaf. By making it like a Chelsea bun in makes it perfect for sharing with your friends.
- 100ml luke warm water
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp dried active yeast
- 400g strong white flour
- 200g wholemeal flour
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- 120g mature cheddar cheese, grated
- 3 tsp black onion seeds
- 300ml porter at room temperature
- 750g onions, cut in half and then sliced
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp soft dark brown sugar
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- 50g mature cheddar cheese grated (for the topping)
- Stir the yeast and the sugar into the water and leave to froth (about 10 minutes should do it).
- Sift the flours, cumin and salt the stir in the cheese and the onion seeds. Add the frothy yeast mix and porter. Mix until you have a firm dough then knead until smooth. By hand this will take 10 minutes or so. Alternatively, knead in a food mixer with a dough hook attachment for 4-5 minutes. Leave to prove for 1-1½ hours until doubled in size.
- While the dough is proving gently cook the onions in the oil until lightly caramelised. This will take some time (possibly as long as 45 minutes) but don’t rush it. If the onions burn they will taste bitter. By cooking them slowly in this way you will bring out their natural sweetness. Once the onions are golden add the brown sugar and vinegar and leave to bubble for a minute or two until the liquid has evaporated. Leave to cool until required.
- Grease and line a 23 x 23cm tin with baking parchment or greaseproof paper.
- Knock back the dough and knead for a couple of minutes. Take approximately ¼ of the dough and roll out into a square large enough to fit the tin. Place in the base of the tin.
- Roll out into a rough rectangle measuring 25 x 35cm. Spread with onion mix leaving a gap 1cm around the edge of the rectangle. Taking the longest side roll the dough up into a sausage type shape (like a swiss roll) keeping it as tight as possible. Trim the ends off the dough to even the edges up then cut the remaining dough into nine pieces. Place on top of the dough base, cut side up, evenly spaced in rows of three. The space between each bun will disappear as the dough proves. Prove the bread for a further 30-40 minutes.
- Pre heat the oven to 200℃. Bake the bread for 10 minutes then turn the oven down to 180℃. Bake for 20 minutes then remove from the oven and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before turning out onto a wire rack. This bread is delicious warm or cold so tear and share to your heart’s content!