Even after having spent nearly half a year living in the alps where I ate more than my body weight several times over in reblochon, tomme, and fresh baguettes, I have to admit I had never come across Pain de Savoie. I also have to admit that I wish I had; it is basically a cross between tartiflette and fondue, so in my eyes it can’t really get much better. And, to top it all of, it kind of looks like a cake!
I came across it while flicking through Paul Hollywood’s ‘Bread’ and thought it looked delicious. However, I decided to put a spin on the more traditional flavours of comté and bacon. Like with my Dandelion and Burdock Loaf Cake, I decided to take another ingredient from the farm shop at work. After having tried the Mordon Blue Cheese that Parlour Made have, I decided I had to try their Durham Camembert as well. The Mordon Blue was delicious: it was incredibly smooth and had a good balance of ‘smelliness’ without being too overwhelming. The Camembert was quite strong, and I must admit stronger than any Camembert I have had in the past, but it was still lovely and worked with the bread and the sweetness of the dates.
I am not going to lie when I say I was quite apprehensive about trying this idea out: I haven’t made a lot of bread in the past and wasn’t exactly sure of the science behind it. Part of my instinct told me that the pH of the dough was important and although the ingredients normally wouldn’t alter it, I decided to add a little twist that would. At work we make a date and walnut compote that we serve with baked camembert and it tastes amazing! I even turned it into a canapé while I was doing my season. So even if you don’t want to make a loaf, you cannot go wrong with simply melting some camembert on some toast or crackers with the compote on top.
However, the reason I was a bit sceptical about it working in the bread was because the dressing used to make the compote contains balsamic vinegar. However I gave it a shot anyway! The results were a little touch and go when my first attempt didn’t rise at all, but once I realised that I was using some out of date yeast it was straight in the bin with that batch and I was off making the second. And this one was much better! The saltiness of the cheese and the sweetness of the compote blended together and broke up the density of the bread really nicely. It may not have risen quite as much as I would have hoped, but it still made a really nice loaf of bread. Paul suggests in his book that you could melt some other cheese on top, for example reblochon, but I think it works really well with a little bit of butter and nothing else. In the end I used wholemeal flour and I must admit this did make the loaf a bit heavier, so if you prefer you could always use strong white bread flour as an alternative. Either way I hope you enjoy, or bon appetit if I am being really cheesy! (No pun intended).
Camembert, Walnut and Date Pain de Savoie (makes 1 large loaf)
- 400g strong brown flour, plus extra for dusting
- 100g rye flour
- 10g salt
- 8g fast-action dried yeast
- 20ml olive oil, plus extra for greasing
- 330ml cool water
- 150g camembert
- About 40g compote
For the date and walnut compote:
- 30g walnuts
- 30g dates
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Mix the flours in a large bowl and add the salt and the yeast on opposite sides. Add the olive oil and 250ml of the water and mix with your hands. Continue to add the water until the mixture forms a dough; you may or may not need all of it.
- Tip the dough onto an oiled work surface and knead for about 20 minutes, or put in a mixer with a dough hook (if you’re feeling lazy).
- Once the surface of the dough is more smooth and elastic you will need to add your compote. To make this whisk the balsamic and the honey together and keep whisking while you gradually add the oil so it emulsifies. Chop the dates and the walnuts, mix, and add enough of the dressing so all the ingredients are well coated.
- Add the compote to the dough and make sure it is well mixed in. Then form the dough into a ball and put in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with clingfilm or a tea towel and leave somewhere warm to prove until it has at least doubled in size. This will take about 2 hours.
- Once risen, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into three sections. Knock back each section and form each into a ball.
- Oil a springform cake tin (at least 20cm) and roll out each section of dough into rounds so it will fit as a layer in the tin. After the first layer sprinkle in half your cheese, and after the second add the rest. Lay the third on top and lightly flour if it needs it. Put the tin inside a roomy plastic bag and leave to prove for another hour.
- Preheat your oven to 220C/ 200 Fan/ 420F.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes and leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tin. After then 10 minutes remove from the tin and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.