Country Loaf and Smoked Cheese Fondue

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.

Dissolve the honey and yeast in the warm water. The temperature of the water should be warm, but comfortable to the touch. Too hot will kill the yeast.

Next the flour goes in and then the salt.  Time to knead.  

Once all the ingredients are in, lock the arm in place about 1 inch from the side of the bowl. This will give the dough room to move around the roller. When locking the arm in place, it will still be able to freely move towards the center of the bowl.

Once the dough is done kneading, shape into a ball and let rise.

Shaping into a ball ensures even rising and also makes it easier to gauge when doubled in size.

After rising, the dough gets punched down and then shaped into a loaf.

When baking with a bread cloche, I like to do the final rise on a piece of parchment paper and then just cover with the cloche lid. The parchment paper can easily be set right on top of the cloche base for baking, so the loaf doesn’t deflate when trying to transfer it for baking. During the second rise, the cloche base will need to be in the oven preheating.

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.

Once risen, slash the top with a sharp knife or lame. Use the parchment paper to transfer to the cloche to bake.

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 shredder attachment comes in handy for the fondue. Make sure to trim any hard edges off the smoked cheese because they won’t fully melt.

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.  

Be patient, the fondue will all come together in the end. Medium to low heat and constant stirring are key.

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!!

Country Loaf

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

Published by

Carmi Adams

Carmi Adams has loved cooking from a very early age; requesting fondue pots and cookbooks for birthdays as a child. She further pursued her passion for food at the Art Institute of Atlanta and obtained a degree in Culinary Arts. Carmi landed a job on the show Good Eats, which aired on the Food Network. For seven years she did everything from food research, recipe development and testing, product testing to feeding a hungry film crew. Now living in the central coast of California, Carmi enjoys the bounty of agriculture, vineyards and farmers markets at her culinary disposal. She has been using the Ankarsrum mixer for over 15 years and feels that it is hands-down the best on the market for home cooks.