My fennels are growing into giants in my garden. The variety I have is a lot skinnier than Florence fennel, and is harvested for its tender shoots rather than the bulb. You can also use the young shoots from any variety of fennel. Using the shoots provides a fennel flavour without the texture or the bulk of the bulb. Emmental and fennel are good companions, giving this bread a nice mellow flavour. You can also use other cheese you fancy.
- 1/2 tablespoon of instant dried yeast (7g)
- 4 cups of combined high grade flour (I normally substitute 1 cup for wholemeal – just my personal preference)
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 2 tablespoons of sugar (I like using raw sugar)
- 2 tablespoons of milk power (optional)
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 1+1/2 cups water
- 1/2 cup of grated cheese
- 1/2 cup of tender fennel shoots, roughly chopped
- Combine in a bowl, everything except cheese and fennel. Mix and knead for 15 minutes until smooth.
- Let it raise until double in size (~45 minutes)
- Punch it down and squelch the sides towards the middle.
- Roll out into a 30 x 60 cm rectangle (roughly). If it keeps wanting to shrink on you as you roll it, rest it for 10 minutes then try again.
- Spread the cheese and fennel on the rectangle evenly.
- Roll it up into a 60 cm long log, then stretch it to roughly 80 cm.
- Fold the log in half and twist, then pinch the ends together and tuck under.
- Let the loaf rise for 30-50 minutes until it roughly doubles in size. Preheat the oven to 200 C.
- Bake for 40 minutes until it’s golden and sounds hollow when tapped.
Note 1: The actual amount of water you need will depend on the climate and your flour. When you first try this recipe out, resist adjusting the amount of water you use until you’ve kneaded it for 10 minutes. If it seems too dry, add more water. If it’s sticky, add more flour. Add water and water gradually, no more than 2 tablespoons at a time.