Back in December I was going through my end-of-the-year questions and spent a post lamenting the fact that despite baking up a lot of sourdough, I hadn’t spent much time exploring the potential of my starter as a starter for other recipes besides bread.
A goal for 2022 was to branch out, and the suggestions I gave myself in that post were to try some variety of recipes such as doughnuts, bagels or english muffins.
Instead, as inspiration would have it, I started instead with a crusty pan bread.
The Youtube algorithm tends to show me a lot of baking content these days, and my playlist offered up a recipe for a thick crust pan pizza. I skipped the pizza part and instead used some of the pizza advice and a half a recipe of my sourdough bread to whip up a tasty cheese bread that complimented our evening meal of beef stew.
cheesy garlic pan bread
500g bread flour
250g active sourdough starter
250g hard cheese
3 garlic cloves
60ml olive oil
10g finishing salt
I made my basic sourdough recipe using the flour, water, salt and starter. This went through the typical hydration and folding cycle and then got covered and popped into the fridge overnight. Technically, I only used half of this to make the pan bread and used the other half to bake some simple sourdough rolls, but I’m sure any innovative baker can figure out something clever to do with half a recipe of ready-to-rise sourdough dough.
I oiled up my ten inch cast iron pan (using half the oil) and halving the dough from above, I balled and then flattened it, shaping it into a thick disk that sat about an inch from all sides of the pan. It was about 8am when I did this, and I wouldn’t go onto the next step until nearly 5pm when the dough disk had risen to a lovely volume that was closer to being ready to bake.
My folks had given us a huge wedge of gouda cheese as part of a Christmas basket, so I grated down a bunch of that. I also crushed the garlic in the remaining oil. Just like one might do with a loaf of foccacia I dimpled the surface of my dough disk with my finger tips then spread the garlic oil roughly over the surface.
Here’s the first trick I learned from that Youtube video. I took about half the grated cheese and made a thick edge right up against the edge of the disk and touching the cast iron. The point here is that as is melts it drips along the crack and gets all fried and crusty making a crispy cheesy edge.
The point is, you want the cheese (and quite a bit of it) right up to the edge of the dough.
With a saltier cheese I may have skipped this extra finishing salt sprinkled atop this whole creation. I like salty garlic bread, probably an artifact of growing up on garlic bread made from buttered toast sprinkled with garlic salt not real garlic, but it really does bring an added dimension to the finished product.
This spent 28 minutes in a 425F oven, but I was watching it carefully for the last five.
The second trick I learned from that Youtube video came right at the end. I checked the browning on the crust of the bread after I pulled it out of the oven to make sure it wasn’t too brown (it wasn’t) and then lit up the stovetop where I continued frying the bread right there in the cast iron pan for another 3 minutes. That crust just browned up a little more and it popped out of the pan glorious and crusty and cheesy as I expected.
My biggest problem was making sure there was some left over for tomorrow.
It was delicious, fresh and steaming hot from the oven, and I’ll be adding this to my regular rotation for family meals or perhaps even to share with friends some day again.