Cheddar, Apple and Walnut Loaf

Before we go any further, I need to stress that this is not a loaf in the traditional meaning of the word. Rather, it falls under the French definition of the word ‘cake’ (in English), that is a savoury one. Indeed, weirdly enough, a ‘cake’ in French is a sponge-based loaf or round concoction where traditionally sweet ingredients are paired up with savoury ones, such as cheese and meat. I don’t need to remind you, I hope, that apples, prunes, figs, pears and apricots go really well with cheese, especially if we are talking about goat’s cheese or a strong and mature cheddar. The possibilities are endless, but I have to say the sweetness of the fruit complements very well the tang and/or creaminess of the salty cheese.

This creation is the result of a very quiet day work-wise. Not that I am a full-time baker, I’ll have you know, and I currently juggle an academic with a freelance career. Yes, I like to keep my hands busy. Anyway, there are days when my work schedule allows me to spend more time in the kitchen and this is the result. I have slightly adapted a recipe from one of the GBBO’s books by changing some quantities and swapping some ingredients. The result is a very dry loaf which you can serve with jam or as an accompaniment to a crunchy salad.

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Ingredients

  • 50g walnut halves
  • 170g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 125g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
  • 50g rolled oats
  • 125g extra mature Cheddar cheese, grated + 25g extra to sprinkle on top
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and cut into small pieces
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • a splash of milk

Method

  1. To make this loaf cake you will need a 450g loaf tin, greased and lined with baking parchment. I have a silicon one which, needless to say, you don’t need to line and/or grease. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
  2. Spread the walnut halves onto a baking tray and roast for 8 minutes, until they turn a light golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the side. Leave the oven on.
  3. Combine the flour, raising agents and salt in a large bowl, then tumble in the butter cubes and and rub them in until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Add the rolled oats, grated cheese and apple pieces. When the walnut halves have cooled down, roughly chop them and add them to the mixture.
  4. In a bowl, lightly whisk the eggs together to combine, then pour them into the bowl with the rest of the mixture. Add the milk, then use a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon to combine. The mixture should be very stiff and hard, which will give you a beautifully crumbly texture afterwards.
  5. Transfer the mixture to the prepared (or not) tin, level the top, then sprinkle the extra cheese and bake for 45-50 minutes. Check with a skewer that the cake has cooked completely before removing from the oven.
  6. Allow to cool completely before attempting to slice it. It will keep for 2 days wrapped in cling film or foil. Enjoy!

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