It’s often said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I would have to argue that the way to anyone’s heart is through good food. Cooking for the ones you love, romantically or platonically, is one of the sincerest ways to show that you care. And with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, what better way to spend that ridiculously over-marketed holiday than in the kitchen whipping up a festive dinner with family, friends or the object of your affection. And let’s steer right past the aphrodisiac food clichés and go for something fun: fondue!
First off, a big thank you to Emile Henry USA for supplying us with the beautiful Bread Cloche as well as the Fondue Set. Their Ombre Ramekin Set also made the perfect little serving dishes for our fondue party. If you follow our blog, you know that we love Emile Henry products and like to feature them regularly. The bread cloche is one of my personal favorites, it bakes the best loaves of bread. And I loved trying out their fondue pot, I got my first one when I was 12 and have always been a fondue fan. The Emile Henry fondue pot can go right on the stovetop to cook the fondue, and then comes with a heating element and stand to use at the table to keep the fondue warm and perfectly melty while eating.
Since this is a two part post, let’s first start with the bread. This is a simple country loaf: just water, yeast, salt, honey and flour. Country loaves are known for having a little whole wheat flour in them along with regular all purpose or bread flour. This gives the bread great flavor and texture without the denseness of a fully whole grain loaf. The cloche produces a lovely crust on the outside, but the inside stays soft and keeps that way for days. I like a touch of honey in my country loaf, just enough to compliment the whole wheat.
Since the recipe uses instant dry yeast, warm water isn’t really needed to bloom the yeast. But I prefer warm water for 2 reasons. First, it helps the dough rise faster (warmth equals quicker rise time) and secondly, it helps the honey dissolve evenly into the dough.
Next the flour goes in and then the salt. Time to knead.
Once the dough is done kneading, shape into a ball and let rise.
After rising, the dough gets punched down and then shaped into a loaf.
If you don’t have a bread cloche, I suggest using a Dutch oven. As with the cloche, let the Dutch oven preheat during that final rise, and then place the loaf in it and cover with the lid to cook, uncovering for the last 5 minutes of baking.
Now that the bread is taken care of, let’s move on to the fondue. I would say that the most important ingredient in the fondue is the cheese. A mixture of different cheeses will result in a well rounded taste. Always use cheeses that you like and that have good melting qualities. Stay away from anything that is stringy or doesn’t fully melt when heated. For this fondue, I used a mixture of Gouda, Gruyere, Fontina and then a smoked Jack. If you can’t find a smoked Jack, smoked Gouda is readily available in the deli section of most grocery stores.
The remaining ingredients consist of lemon juice for a little acidic relief to all that cheese, some cornstarch to help with the texture, fresh garlic because garlic is delicious, and then broth and wine to bring it all together. If you prefer not to use wine, just substitute with equal amounts of broth. And make sure the broth is low-sodium as the cheese itself already has so much salt.
If you don’t have a fondue pot, you can also cook the mixture in a medium saucepan, and then serve with forks to dip the bread into the cheese sauce. Other than bread, I like to serve my cheese fondue with roasted potatoes and a variety of vegetables, cooked and raw. If it goes with cheese, it will taste good with fondue.
Let us know if you have any questions or comments. Hope this inspires you to try out the fun that is fondue. Happy baking, and happy dunking into cheese!!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Time: 2 1/2 hours
Cook Time: 30 minutes
21 g. (1 Tbsp.) honey
360 g. (1 1/2 cups) warm water
8 g. (2 tsp.) instant dry yeast
113 g. (1 cup) whole wheat flour
360 g. (3 cups) all purpose flour
6 g. (1 1/2 tsp.) kosher salt
Add the honey, water and yeast to the stainless steel mixing bowl with the roller/scraper. Mix together on medium speed (3 o’clock) until combined.
Reduce speed to low (12 o’clock) and slowly add in the flour, and then the salt. Increase speed to medium (between 2 and 3 o’clock) and lock arm about 1 inch from side of bowl. Set timer to knead for 8 minutes.
After kneading, cover and let rise until doubled in size, approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Punch dough down and shape into a tight ball. Cover and let until almost doubled, about 1 hour.
While dough rises, preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Place cloche bottom in oven to preheat.
Once dough has risen, use a lame or shape knife to cut an X in the top of the dough. Carefully place on the cloche bottom and cover with the cloche lid. Bake for 10 minutes.
Reduce temperature to 450 degrees F. Bake for another 15 minutes. Remove lid and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool before slicing into.
Yield: 1 loaf
Smoked Cheese Fondue
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10-15 minutes
1 small clove garlic, minced
5 g. (1 tsp.) lemon juice
118 g. (1/2 cup) low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
114 g. (1/2 cup) dry white wine
7 g. (1 Tbsp.) cornstarch
116 g. (4 oz. ) smoked cheese – preferably Jack or Gouda, shredded
566 g. (20 oz.) mixture of melting cheeses: Gouda, Gruyere, Fontina, etc., shredded
Accompaniments for serving, optional: lightly steamed broccoli or cauliflower, roasted potatoes, bell pepper wedges, roasted beets
Add garlic, lemon juice, broth and wine to a medium saucepan or heatproof Fondue pot over medium low heat. Cook for 3 minutes.
Toss the cornstarch with the cheese and then slowly add into the pot, stirring constantly until melted and smooth, approximately 10 minutes. Transfer fondue pot to table and keep warm with the fondue pot’s heating element. Serve immediately with country loaf and desired sides.
Yield: 6-8 servings