It’s that time again…time to pull out the mixing bowl and make magic! This time we’re doing cheesey bread, in a period style no less. I like cheese and I really like bread, so with a Roman recipe we’re going to combine the two.
Cubed shape bread, with aniseed, fresh sheep’s cheese and olive oil (Ath. 114a/Faas, pp. 192)
4 C Somolina Flour (wheat though a little semolina and/or traces of rye and barley would not be out of place…see note on flour)
1 C White flour
2 C Sheep’s milk cheese (feta or machango depending on taste desired)
3 Tbs olive oil + 1 tsp for coating of dough
1 tsp salt 1 tsp honey 1 ½ C water 1 tsp yeast
1 tsp Anise seeds (optional)
The Roman recipe is fairly sparse so I had to do a little experimenting and researching. The above ingredient list is from playing around with various flours and flavors!
*A note about period flour. Period flour was not just one type of flour or another. Depending on where the flour was in the que of grinding depended on how much semolina, barley or rye might be found in the wheat. Not matter where in the que though or how much of wheat flour was being ground, traces of other flours would show up. This is because period grist mills did not clean between grinds. Unlike today’s flour there was always a little extra to the wheat flour.
This is 4 cups of Semolina flour. This is not what most people associate with bread, mostly… The texture is grainy and not silky smooth like a regular white or wheat flour is. The bread texture produced from Semolina flour is just a little on the grainy side, more rough in texture. Good but different and that is what we want to explore!
First step is to get the yeast going or at least introducing the yeast to the flour. Mix the yeast, water and honey together to get the yeast bubbling and growing or if you like just put the yeast in the flour and mix well. This is the point to add in the anise seeds if you wanted to.
Here I have both types of flours and the yeast ready to go. Everything is well mixed together so that we can add in the cheese. Now for this recipe, I use a good quality sheep milk cheese. You can use a dry feta or even Parmesan. Don’t limit yourself to just one type of cheese or even one cheese if you want to play around with flavors!
Mix the cheese and flour together and make a small well in the center of the mixture. Next the oil.
To this add in salt, honey and a bit of water…not to much water though. We want a nice dough not a wet batter.
Next we’re going to make lumpy cheese dough! Mix everything together. Here is the first moment or two of stirring together.
Looks pretty rough doesn’t it? Keep kneading! The dough does get prettier.
I’ve lightly covered the bread with olive oil. For some reason this seems to help the rising and the flavor gets a little added boost. The bowl is covered with a cloth and set in a warm(ish) spot to rise for roughly an hour to an hour and a half.
Once the dough has risen, I punch it down and place the dough on a metal sheet for the 2nd rise, usually about 30-45 minutes. Till it’s nice and fluffy!
As a bread loaf, I have to admit this is pretty ugly looking. Subsequent tries on this has shown that forming a round ball that are smooth and non lumpy form mostly round(ish) and smooth(ish) cheese bread rounds.
Here is a picture of the interior. I’d offer you a taste but the bread is gone now…and it was very very tasty! By the way this bread goes excellently with the Roman garlic herb cheese recipe. They compliment each other very very well!