My love of Christmas is well known amongst my nearest and dearest and it is my favourite time of year to bake as you can get really creative. Hence why, over the next seven weeks I will be bringing you my signature Christmas bakes, starting with this savoury showstopper...cheesy, chilli tear 'n' share bread in the shape of a Christmas* wreath. It is the perfect centre piece for your festive parties.
*Christmas, Christmas, Christmas...could I have said Christmas anymore in two paragraphs?
500g strong white bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp caster sugar
1 packet or 1 1/2 tsp dried fast-action yeast
150g finely chopped fresh chillis
350ml lukewarm water
75g finely grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tsp mixed herbs
1 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
50g melted butter
Sundried tomatoes to decorate
- Put the flour, sugar, salt, yeast and chopped chillies into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the 350ml of water. Mix together slowly until you have a slightly sticky dough. Turn out onto a lightly dusted surface and knead for around 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
- Drizzle a little olive oil into the mixing bowl then place the dough back in the bowl, cover with cling film and place in a warm place to prove for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Whilst the dough is proving, cut the cheddar into small cubes, about 1 cm in size. In a shallow dish mix the parmesan, herbs and rosemary together whilst in another shallow dish pour the melted butter.
- Grease and line a large baking sheet with greaseproof paper. Knock the proved dough and gently knead again until smooth and elastic. Divide into 25 even pieces.
- Working with one piece at a time, knead a little, place a cube of cheese in the centre and seal pinching the dough together with your fingers. Roll into a ball.
- Put a small ramekin dish in the centre of the baking sheet. Roll the dough balls in the butter and then in the parmesan mixture. Place the balls around the ramekin with a small gap between each ball and the dish to allow room during the second prove. Make a second circle around the first, again leaving a little space.
- Cover loosely with lightly oiled cling film and leave for a second prove in a warm place for around 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Bake the wreath for 40-50 minutes, covering loosely with foil after 20/25 minutes to stop the cheese on the outside browning too much.
- Leave to cool slightly for a few minutes, decorate with sundried tomatoes, fresh rosemary sprigs and serve warm. If serving later, leave to cool and then warm through just before serving.
Serve with your chosen dip in the middle or, my personal favourite is alongside a freshly roasted ham, what could be more festive than that?