Lately, I have been obsessed with playing Great British Bake Off in the background. There is just something comforting about hearing the voices of the judges and the contestants talking about food. As you can imagine, I am obsessed with food. The other day, I was lucky to pay attention when the episode on quick bread started playing. Before I knew it, I was designing this cheddar and spring onion bread in my head.
Cheddar and Spring Onion Bread
Every so often, I make something that makes me take a step back and have a look at my life. It is usually in a good way. This cheddar and spring onion bread is definitely a step back moment. A few years ago, I wasn’t exactly enamored with cheese. Most of the cheese I ate came on pizza. This remained true until I started working at Whole Foods Market. It was there I really got to explore the world of cheese and fall in love.
One of my favorite memories from working at that grocery store was getting to attend a cheese presentation. Whole Foods Market had such a high standing in the cheese market so vendors often did presentations for team members. This was a few years ago so I am not sure if it is still the case. I remember going for this presentation hosted by cheesemakers from Europe talking about their cave ripened cheeses. They had a selection of soft cheeses that were rich and creamy to moldy and strong cheeses. It was all so delicious and opened my eyes to the deliciousness of pungent cheeses.
My other favorite memory of working at the grocery store was the annual ‘Crack Heard Around World.’
During this event, a cheese specialist breaks into a new wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano while an audience watches. In some stores, the process of cracking the wheels is turned into a competition between two team members. Breaking into a new wheel of Parmigiano is an involved process. You have to break through the hard wax that surrounds the wheel then get into the cheese beneath. The cheese beneath the waxy seal is worth the effort it takes to break it open.
The texture of freshly cracked Parmigiano is a complete revelation. After two years of aging, the texture is almost flaky and definitely tenders on the palate. Also, it tastes so amazing. Freshly cracked parmiggiano-reggiano is less pungent that it is older relative. I always used to love the fanfare and the learning that happened when the store held product-driven events. It was always a great bit of marketing, entertainment, and education.
My favorite cheese from Whole Foods Market that I reach for over and over again is the Smoked Seaside Cheddar cheese. This is the cheese that I love cooking with the most. I have made countless cheese sauces and souffle with this cheese. Eating the Seaside Smoked Cheddar is also a divine experience. The texture is amazing because you also get to feel the crystals of salt on the tongue. Discovering this particular cheddar cheese made me start buying other cheddar cheeses to eat.
I designed this cheddar and spring onion bread to incorporate my two favorite kinds of cheeses; cheddar and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Instead of my favorite cheddar cheese, I used a strong Kerrygold cheddar cheese in this version of the recipe. This was the cheese that I had on hand. As I live through the uncertainty of an uncontrolled pandemic, I am learning to stock up my pantry and cook from it constantly.
The beauty of making a quick bread like this cheddar and spring onion bread is that it happens quickly without fuss. It is truly a one bowl experience. I know I have a recipe below but really this bread does not need one. The recipe basically instructs you to mix all the ingredients in one bowl. The bit that makes this bread fancy is the flavor additions. In this case, the cheddar cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and the spring onion elevate this experience.
In the past few months, I developed an obsession with growing my own spring onions. The initial isolation when the pandemic started forced me to learn about ways to extend the life of vegetables. I learned a trick where I stick my green onions in the water when I get home. The roots get longer and the leaves keep growing. I actually kept a batch of spring onions for about 3 months using this method. All I had to do was snip off lengths of green tops for cooking. That’s the technique I have used for the spring onions in this bread.
Like so many people living through this pandemic, I have found myself making more of my own food at home.
This has been for both practical and emotional reasons. From a financial point of view, I simply cannot afford to buy all the things I indulged in while I was employed. Now that my budget is limited, I am recreating some of the things I have loved in my kitchen. Spending time in the kitchen has become a distraction from everything that is going on around me.
As I write this in late October, after seven and a half months of the pandemic, I am getting ready to go into the second round of isolation in my apartment. The numbers of cases are spiking hard around the United States. I feel like my best protection is to isolate again as I did in March. Cooking is what saved me emotionally during the initial two months or so of isolating. In particular, I baked loads of cakes and bread. Quick bread, like this Cheddar and Spring Onion bread, requires little effort for big flavor. That’s a win in my kitchen.
One of my favorite things about this bread is that the cheddar cheese remains in chunks in the bread.
I made that choice intentionally because I like bits of flavor bombs. Of course, by grating in the Parmigiano-Reggiano, you get the cheesy goodness perfuming the whole bread. So this ends up being the best of both worlds. If you do decide to bake this bread and you can eat it all in one go, I highly recommend toasting it in a pan. Since this bread has a lot of cheese in it, heat from toasting creates a caramelized crust that is the best kind of umami. I am salivating just thing of the salty goodness of toasted cheese. The cheddar and spring onion bread will go so well with butternut squash and white bean soup.
Cheddar and Spring Onion
- 2 cup All Purpose Flour
- 1 cup Buttermilk
- 1 tbsp Sugar
- 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 cup Sliced Spring Onion green
- 4 ounces Strong Cheddar* Cut into 1/4 inch chunks
- 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano Or Parmesan* Grating it yourself at home gives better result
- 1 tsp Ground Mustard
- 1/4 cup Melted Butter
- Preheat oven to 350F. Prep baking tin. I bake mine in a classic 9X5 loaf pan.
- Combine 1/2c of sping onion slices with 1/4c of parmigiano-reggiano cheese and set aside
- Add all the remaining ingredients to a bowl. Mix together until well combined. Transfer into prepped baking pan.
- Sprinkle the reserved spring onion and cheese mix all over the top of the bread batter before placing in the oven.
- Bake until an inserted pick comes out clean. That usually takes about 40-45 minutes.
- Bread last for about a week in my fridge. I simply slice a thin piece and toast in a pan sprayed with a bit of oil to warm it up.