Blue cheese and red onion festive bread wreath
Aoife Noonan’s blue cheese and red onion festive bread wreath. Photograph: Harry Weir Photography
- Serves: 12
- Cooking Time: 3 mins
- Course: Starter
- Cuisine: Irish
- For the red onions:
- 1tsp olive oil
- 2 red onions, finely sliced
- Salt and pepper to season
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- For the bread:
- 1kg strong white flour
- 20g fine sea salt
- 14g (2 sachets) dried yeast
- 525ml tepid water
- 150g blue cheese
For the red onions:
1 Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan on a low heat and add the onions. Season with salt and pepper, add the thyme sprigs and sweat the onions for about five to 10 minutes until soft and translucent.
2 Stir the onions regularly to ensure they don’t catch. Once they are soft, add the brown sugar and balsamic vinegar, and continue to cook for another two to three minutes until the sugar has caramelised, the vinegar has reduced and you are left with a sticky, jam-like consistency.
3 Remove and discard the thyme sprigs. Take the onions off the heat and let them cool completely. Chill them until you are ready to make the bread.
For the bread:
1 Sieve the flour into a large bowl, or into a stand mixer if using, and add the salt.
2 Measure the tepid water into a measuring jug and add the yeast. Leave to sit for two to three minutes.
3 If using a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and start to mix the flour and salt. Pour in the water and continue to mix on a low speed for five minutes. Increase to a medium speed and continue to mix for another five minutes.
4 Add the onions, crumble in the cheese and continue to mix for another two to three minutes until smooth, elastic and the cheese and onions are evenly distributed.
5 Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a clean tea towel. Put the dough in a warm place and leave to rise for an hour or until doubled in size.
6 Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knock the dough a few times with your fist.
7 Preheat the oven to 220 degrees and lightly grease a large, 28cm diameter, deep cake tin. Place another baking tray filled with water in the bottom of the oven. Divide the dough into 10 x 100g balls and eight x 75g balls. Arrange the larger balls around the outside of the tin and place the smaller balls in another circle snugly inside the first. Place a ring cutter or ramekin in the centre to allow the wreath to hold its shape.
8 Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise for a second time for about 30 minutes.
9 Dust the wreath with flour and bake for 20 minutes, reduce the heat to 200 degrees and bake for a further 30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.