300g (2¼ cups) strong white
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp instant yeast
½ tsp fine salt
100g (1 cup) walnuts
200ml (¾ cup) hand-hot water
olive oil, for kneading and drizzling
For the Camembert
1 whole ripe Camembert
1 clove of garlic, finely sliced
a sprig of fresh rosemary, needles
2 tbsp dry sherry (use dry
white vermouth or white wine
if you prefer)
sea salt flakes and freshly ground
Put the flour, black pepper, yeast and salt into a mixing bowl and stir well to mix. Whizz the walnuts in a food processor until they are coarsely ground, or chop very finely with a sharp knife. Stir into the flour mix. Pour in the warm water and bring the dough together with a wooden spoon until it forms a rough ball. Set aside for 10 minutes for the flour to hydrate.
Lightly oil the worktop and tip the dough on to it. Scrape any bits of flour from the bowl, and drizzle the inside with a little oil, using your hands to spread it all over. With oiled hands, very lightly knead the dough for just 10 seconds, with one pull per second. Put back into the bowl, cover and set aside for 10 minutes. Repeat this 10-second knead and 10-minute rest twice more. Put the dough back into the bowl, cover and leave until risen by a good 50 per cent, which will take an hour or so.
Once the dough has risen, lightly flour the worktop and scrape the dough on to it. Using floured hands, gently flatten and pat the dough into an oval that’s about two-thirds the size of your wooden peel. Lift on to a lightly floured wooden peel and use a really sharp knife to cut diagonal slashes on one side of the loaf from the middle to nearly the edge, opening up the gaps so it looks like a large tropical leaf. Repeat on the other side, then set aside to prove for another 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, get the Camembert ready for baking. Unwrap the cheese and place it in a small heatproof dish – I use a shallow enamel bowl, but any small baking dish would be fine. Use a small sharp knife to pierce a dozen slits in the top, and into these press slivers of garlic and bits of rosemary. Drizzle over the sherry and season with salt and pepper.
Immediately before baking, drizzle the bread with a little oil and sprinkle over some sea salt flakes. Slide the loaf into the hot oven and bake for 15 minutes. After that time, slide the dish of cheese alongside, and rotate the bread if necessary to make sure it’s cooking evenly. Bake both for another 10–15 minutes, until the cheese is oozing and the bread is crisp. Serve immediately, while hot.
The Ultimate Wood Fired Oven Cookbook by Genevieve Taylor (Quadrille £15) Photography: Jason Ingram