Cheese platter with homemade fig and walnut bread

 

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Over the coming weeks I’m going to share with you the many facets of my biggest food obsession – cheese. Few things, culinary or otherwise, are more ubiquitous with the hexagon nation than fromage. You’d be surprised at how many varieties and subtleties of flavour exist and so I just couldn’t fit everything into one post. For today, I’ve started at the end, showing you a platter of a few of my favourites (at least from the selection we are able to purchase in Australia, but that’s another story.)

Now, it’s not just the cheese that matters on a cheese platter. What you eat your cheese with is equally important. A good quality crusty loaf of bread is a must and a touch of sweetness like a fig or quince paste can really enhance the flavour. I’ve combined the two in this delicious fig and walnut bread recipe that you can easily make at home and impress your guests with.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 kg baker’s flour
  • 100g fresh yeast (or 35g dried yeast)
  • 800mL luke warm water
  • 35g salt
  • 200g walnut kernel
  • 150g dried figs
  • 150g dried apricots (optional)

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees on fan force.
  2. Mix the yeast with a little bit of water, just enough to dilute it.
  3. Put all the dry ingredients into a big mixing bowl and give it a stir before you add the yeast. You don’t want the yeast to be in direct contact with the salt, as it would “kill” it.
  4. Roughly chop the walnuts, figs and apricots (if you are including them) and keep aside.
  5. Add the yeast to the dry ingredients then add the water. Knead the dough well for about 5 minutes, by hand or using an electric mixer with a hook attachment.
  6. Put the dough on a lightly floured bench, spread it a little bit and arrange the nuts and dried fruits in the middle. Knead well for a further 5 minutes by hand to make sure the garnish is evenly spread.
  7. Put the dough back in the mixing bowl and cover with a tea towel. Leave to proof until it doubles in size, then knock it back down with your fists (as if you’re punching it).
  8. Portion the dough in 300g balls and using the palm of your hands, form an oblong shape, kind of like a big Baguette.
  9. Cover the bread with a towel and leave to proof until nearly double in size.
  10. Bake the bread until golden and crunchy around the outside (about 15 minutes). To know when it’s ready, gently knock on the bottom of the loaf and if it sounds hollow, then it’s ready.

 

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I paired this wonderful bread with a cheese platter in which I used the following cheeses:

  1. Pico goats cheese : Perigord region, France. Soft ripened cheese
  2. Fourme D’ambert: Puy De Dome in Auvergne France. Semi Hard blue cheese
  3. Brebirousse d’argental: Lyon region, soft ripened bloomy rind sheep’s milk cheese
  4. truffled brie: Rouzaire Ile De France, soft cheese

I also used dried apricots, dried figs, grapes, crackers and moscatels on the platter

All those are available from feast in Hampton or Richmond café and Larder cheeses, you can also visit their website: www.rhcl.com.au

With this amazing cheese platter I recommend a Chateau “ Ollieux Romanis” Corbiere red available from www.airoldifinewines.com.au .

Homemade baguette

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We  generally attributed the invention of leaven bread to the Egyptians , who have made ​​the discovery by chance. Dough unleavened bread (water, milk and flour) was skipped, would have “spoiled”, but would still have been fired, leading to the discovery of leavened bread. The bread evolution slowed down during the invasions of Normandy particularly because of non-maintenance or destruction of the Gallo-Roman watermills. Since the Renaissance, the development of science benefits the milling and baking technology, the first applicable to the yeast scientific work benefits from the invention of the microscope by the Dutch Antonie van Leeuwenhoekk, the fermentation by yeast grows, bread diversifies and coarse bread (from peas of beans or acorns ) no longer appear in times of scarcity. In Paris, the first industrial bakery was founded in 1836 . The same decade also saw the emergence of the bread stick.  Consumption of fresh bread then democratize ,the people had the habit of eating far from stale bread.

 

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Baguette:

 

Ingredients:

  • 500 g Bakers flour
  • 250 ml warm water
  • 24 g fresh yeast or 8 g dry yeast
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 TBSP olive oil

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Method:

  • Place flour in a mixer with a hook attachment, add salt and mix for about 30 seconds just to incorporate the salt. In a separate bowl place the yeast and add a little warm water to dilute the yeast, if you are using dry yeast you’ll need to leave it activate for about 8-10 minutes until it starts to bubble on top. Add the yeast to the flour while mixing, and then slowly add the water while mixing. The bowl should be clean when finished, if it sticks a little you can add a bit more flour. Knead the dough for about 3-4 minutes, then put on the kitchen bench and knead it for about 1-2 minutes to form a smooth ball. Put it back in the bowl and cover it with a towel, leave the dough rest until it has doubled in size. Once doubled in size take the dough out and put it on the bench. Knead it for about a minute, just to knock all the air out. Portion the dough into little ball depending on the size you want your baguette to be. Then using the palm of your hand flatten the dough a little to form like a rectangle, then roll a 1/3 of the rectangle over itself a and knead it with the palm of your hand. Repeat until you have a cylinder like shape, then using both your hands starting in the middle finishing at both ends; roll the baguette to give it a nice round shape, same principle as rolling gnocchi. Place the baguette on a flat baking tray with a little bit of flour to prevent sticking. Cover the baguettes with a towel and leave to proof until doubled in size. Preheat your oven at 220 degrees Celsius and place a bowl of water at the bottom. The water will create a bit of humidity and give the bread a beautiful golden colour. Once doubled in size, with a Sharpe knife slightly mark the top of the baguette, this help the steam escape while cooking, and also give it a great look. Bake for about 16-18 minutes, turning them around about half way. Once cooked, place them on cooling rack. Voila, your baguettes are done. My favourite way to enjoy a freshly bake baguette is to have it with delicious cheese platter and a glass of red wine. What’s yours? Let me know at lefermierblog@gmail.com . To watch my how to video check out the link here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93c3IZMbWKU

À bientôt,
Le Fermier

 

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