Recipe 168 – Cheese & Celery Crown Loaf

I think celery is a vegetable that you either love or loathe.  I absolutely loathe it raw, but can just about eat it when it has been cooked, ie in a bolognese.  The worst bit about celery for me is the chopping of it.  If you can remember chalk squeaking on a blackboard when you were at school setting your teeth on edge, well that’s what celery does to me.  But I had to chop it up for this recipe, aargh!

Reading through the recipe I was surprised to see that there wasn’t any yeast involved and I did wonder whether I’d end up with a stodgy loaf because of this, however I was pleasantly surprised.

As usual the oven was put on to preheat at Fan 170°C and a 20cm (8″) deep round cake tin was lightly greased.

The longest part about making this bread was in fact the preparation, once that had all been done, it was in the oven within 5 minutes!

Into a large mixing bowl I weighed out 350g self-raising flour and rubbed in 40g softened butter.  A little freshly ground black pepper was added (I probably added slightly more than required as I do like pepper) and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  This was given a quick stir through to mix it all together.  3 large sticks of celery were chopped up finely (my teeth were definitely on edge by the end of it) and added to the flour, together with 175g mature cheddar cheese (grated) (keep a small handful back for sprinkling over the top of the loaf) and a clove of crushed garlic.  These were stirred into the dry ingredients.

In a separate bowl I whisked together a large egg and 6 tablespoons of milk.  This was added to the dry mixture and beaten together.  I actually had to add another tablespoon of milk as my mixture was far too dry and didn’t want to come together to form a soft dough.

Once the dough had been formed it was turned out onto a lightly floured surface.   No kneading was involved with this loaf!    There were two ways of baking this bread you could either quickly shape it into a neat round of about 20cm in diameter and put onto a baking tray or divide it into 12 small pieces and roll them into balls and place them into the cake tin, starting from the outside.  I decided to divide my dough up in to the 12 pieces.

Once they were in the tin, the dough was sprinkled with a little of the grated cheese.  That was it, it was very simple indeed.  The loaf went into the oven for 45 minutes.  The smell coming from the oven was gorgeous – melted cheese, with a hint of garlic, yum!  After 45 minutes the loaf was well risen and golden brown and sounded hollow when you tapped the bottom.  It was removed from the tin and put onto a wire rack to cool.

After 5 minutes I couldn’t wait any longer for it to cool, I had to rip a piece off and eat it.  It was delicious, you couldn’t really taste the celery (much to my delight) but it was very cheesy and the garlic certainly came through.  The whole family loved it and seeing how easy it was to make, it’s definitely something I will bake again.  It is very much a tear and share loaf.  A big hit indeed in this house!

Cheese & Celery Crown Loaf

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