Savory Cheese Boule

January  4, 2012
4 Ratings
  • Makes 1 large round loaf or 2 small ones
Author Notes

The lusty yeastiness and a portion of tender all-purpose flour almost render this a quick bread. You can certainly make it and have it on the table in about 2 hours. The colorful effect of the toasted walnuts and fresh sage have to be seen to be believed. And if your house is for sale, bake a batch just before the open house. People will follow their noses straight to your door.

Please be sure to look through the photo gallery so you can see the finished product. —boulangere

What You'll Need
  • 10 ounces warm water
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast (or 1 tablespoon instant)
  • 1 glug of honey, about 1 tablespoon
  • 3 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt
  • 2 glugs of olive oil, about 2 tablespoons
  • 8-10 large sage leaves, minced
  • 1 cup walnut pieces, toasted
  • 1 cup Fontina cheese, 1/2” cubes, about 4-5 ounces
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Scatter the walnut pieces over the parchment. If they’re large, first chop them up a bit on a cutting board. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until they’re nicely fragrant when you open the oven door. Remove from oven and allow to cool while you scale your ingredients and begin mixing.
  2. Measure water, yeast, and honey into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Don’t have a mixer? Don’t despair. See #12 below. Whisk them together.
  3. Add the bread flour, salt, and olive oil. Mix on low speed. By the time the ingredients come together and look like a good dough, your nuts should be cool enough to add. Don’t worry of the dough has a bit of a “foot,” a portion that sticks to the bottom of the bowl. The addition of the nuts and sage will solve the problem.
  4. Add the nuts and sage. Let bread continue to knead until they are well incorporated, about 4-5 minutes. Don’t worry if they don’t appear evenly distributed. The step where the cheese is added will take care of everything.
  5. Turn dough out of bowl and either oil or spray it. Return dough, turning it over once. Cover tightly with a piece of plastic and allow to proof at room temperature until doubled, about 30-45 minutes.
  6. While dough is rising, cube cheese.
  7. When dough has finished its first proofing, lightly flour a work surface. Gently turn dough out on it. Pat your hands in some flour and begin tenderly patting your dough out into a circle about 12” in diameter. Scatter the cheese cubes over the surface, avoiding the edges. Now, imagine that you’re folding four edges of the circle towards the center, effectively creating a square. Do that. Then fold the 4 points of the square to the center. Your cheese should be completely enfolded in the dough. Carefully turn the dough over and use your hands to gather the edges into a ball again.
  8. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set the dough on it and drape it with your piece of plastic. Let proof again until doubled, about 30 minutes.
  9. About one half hour into the proofing time, preheat oven to 375 degrees. If you use a baking stone, set it in the oven when you turn it on. Just before placing bread in oven, remove the plastic and slash it decoratively with a serrated knife held at an acute angle. Some of the cheese should bubble out dramatically while baking.
  10. If using a stone, simply lift the sheet of parchment with the bread on it and slide it onto the stone. Otherwise, set the baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating bread 180 degrees at the halfway point.
  11. When done, remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing. Definitely serve warm!
  12. No mixer? No problem. Start with step 2 in a mixing bowl. Add the dry ingredients in step 3, and stir with a wooden spoon until you can’t stir any longer. Turn dough out onto a floured surface, pat your hands in some flour, and knead until dough comes together, but still feels a bit soft and tacky. Add the nuts and sage and continue kneading until they’re well incorporated. At this point, pick up with step 5 and continue the rest of the way through!
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • MaryMaryCulinary
  • deanna1001
  • em-i-lis
  • lapadia
  • monkeymom

29 Reviews

MaryMaryCulinary January 16, 2012
I had the same problem as em-i-lis, unfortunately. I made it by hand and had a batter that couldn't be turned out to knead. I ended up adding almost twice the flour called for and the dough still threatened to run off the parchment during the second rising. I ended up with a huge flat loaf which was moist and had a great crumb, but the flavours of the sage and cheese were kind of lost since I used so much more flour. I may try this as a no-knead bread another time, as I think it would do very well if not cooked free-form.
boulangere January 16, 2012
I'm so sorry to hear that, MaryMary! I've never made it any way other than with a mixer. This may indeed be one of those that doesn't lend itself well to the manual method. Thank you for the heads-up.
deanna1001 January 13, 2012
This is beautiful! I'm going to try it with my starter rather than yeast. I'll post back about results. Thanks! Maybe I'll have this with the meatballs I'm testing - for a double sage and walnut fix!
boulangere January 13, 2012
I'd love to know how it works with your starter! Those meatballs sound heavenly. I'm glad you asked the pork question. They look fantastic to try.
em-i-lis January 7, 2012
just a quick update. the fontina is great in this, and we've devoured 75% of the loaf so far. so although mine looks nothing like yours, it's a lovely bread, and the second loaf is cooking away. thank you!
boulangere January 8, 2012
Persevere! I'm so glad you like it!
em-i-lis January 7, 2012
Hi c, my dough looks like a very runny batter but i did all the measurements properly. help!!! should i just keep mixing? add some flour? thanks!
boulangere January 7, 2012
Oh, so sorry I was gone for the afternoon! I hope I'm not too late. Yes, this is a "slack" dough, in that in its initial mixing, it will be soft. A significant portion will want to stick to the bottom of the bowl and some of the sides. But by the time you add the nuts and sage, it should come together well. Still, of there is a bit of a "foot", in other words, dough which wants to stick to the bottom of the bowl, that's ok. That addition moisture will only contribute to the proof and rise of you bread. Whew! I hope I got to you in time. That'll teach me to go to a birthday party. Let me know if there's anything else I can help you with here!
em-i-lis January 7, 2012
thank you so much for this helpful response, c. i hope you had a great time at the party. i added nearly 3/4 c more flour (mix of bread/AP/whole wheat) and finally just through it in a bread pan. :) during proof and cooking, it rose quite well. the flavor is lovely!! could it be a difference in our bread flours? it came together in a sense but i could never have kneaded it by hand or cooked it on a stone. hmm. thank you again!!
lapadia January 7, 2012
Love it!
lapadia January 7, 2012
I've been making bread this week, too. Just seemed like a fun way to start out 2012! Happy New Year :0
boulangere January 7, 2012
It does feel good, doesn't it. Thank you, lapadia!
em-i-lis January 6, 2012
This looks wonderful!!!! If you're a bread novice, is it pretty doable?
boulangere January 6, 2012
Absolutely! It's genuinely foolproof. I'd love to know if you try it.
em-i-lis January 7, 2012
i'm starting now!!
monkeymom January 5, 2012
Amazing! Can't wait to try it. Have you done a wild yeast version ever? I just got my new starter going and am anxious to try it out.
boulangere January 5, 2012
I haven't yet, but what a great idea. Thanks!
boulangere January 5, 2012
I haven't yet, but what a great idea. Thanks!
boulangere January 5, 2012
I haven't yet, but what a great idea. Thanks!
boulangere January 5, 2012
I haven't yet, but what a great idea. Thanks!
hardlikearmour January 4, 2012
Another gorgeous loaf! You are the bread queen.
boulangere January 4, 2012
You're too sweet. Hmmmm........a crown-shaped loaf.
boulangere January 5, 2012
For Mardi Gras!
boulangere January 5, 2012
For Mardi Gras!
boulangere January 5, 2012
For Mardi Gras!
Bevi January 4, 2012
This is to die for. What a masterpiece!
boulangere January 4, 2012
Seriously, Bevi, if not a blistered tongue, I'd have eaten the entire loaf. Thank you so much.
mrslarkin January 4, 2012
it's gorgeous!! Don't forget to enter it into the contest! Go back to edit page, then at bottom of screen select the walnut/sage contest. :)
boulangere January 4, 2012
Thanks, mrsl. I thought I had, but I'll do it again. A fresh one just came out of the oven. It's totally worth blistering my tongue with the walnuts ; )