Stilton, walnut, raisin bread

September 6, 2016
stilton raisin walnut bread

Blue cheese is one of those things. Some do. And some just don’t.

As for me, I really do. Once upon a time, a very long time ago, I had a dish of gnocchi Gorgonzola in Aosta, in the north of Italy – a meal so sublime that I still dream of it.  The Gorgonzola sauce was full of umami – that big, round, full, savoury flavour that fills your mouth and wakes your taste buds and makes your whole mouth water. Rich, creamy, pungent, slightly salty, with the slightest hint of sweet in the aftertaste. The gnocchi was ethereal and so tender it dissolved on my tongue.

It was the kind of meal that reduces you to reverence. A brief lust for the unseen chef. I was young. I was with my loved one. We were hiking in the mountains. We had met up with friends from home in this beautiful old remote Italian town and found ourselves in a small, dark, candlelit restaurant with white table cloths and big wine glasses. Our handsome Italian waiter spoke no English but mimed and gestured all night long and he served the whole meal with theatrical Italian flair, banging down the plates and pouring the wine and water from great heights. It was divine. All of it. But especially the food.

Food, love, kinship. It’s a holy trinity.

We forget that food is deeply spiritual. But it really is. Food is what sustains us in every way. And bread perhaps more so than anything else; despite our current rejection of wheat as we move from a valuable ancient food source to an over-processed, industrialized version of flour grown from wheat that barely resembles what wheat once was. The trick it seems, is to eat less, and eat better. Find a supplier of stone ground, whole meal flour. Even if you mix it half and half with regular flour, you’ll notice an incredible difference in both taste and texture.

This beautiful bread is my latest favourite thing. It’s excellent with soup, or stew, or a big hearty salad. Or serve it alongside a charcuterie or cheese platter. I like it best buttered, and then slathered with cream cheese and apricot jam. But it’s very fine all by itself. And if you’re one of those who doesn’t prefer blue cheese, you can easily substitute something else here. Grated cheddar or Gouda would work well. Smoked cheddar would be perfect. Danish Blue works well too.

stilton, raisin, walnut bread sliced

Stilton, walnut, and raisin bread

This recipe was adapted from The Great British Bake Off: Celebrations, published by Hodder & Stoughton.

  • 100 grams (~3.5 oz or ~3/4 cup) of Stilton or other sharp cheese of your preference
  • 100 g (~3.5 oz or ~3/4 cup) chopped walnuts
  • 100 grams (~3.5 oz or ~2.3 cup) raisins
  • 300 grams (~10.5 ounces or 2 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 200 grams (~7 oz or 1 1/2 cups) stone ground, whole meal flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 400 ml (~1 3/4 cups) buttermilk or milk soured with lemon juice
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a baking sheet.
  2. Trim the rind off the Stilton if using and crumble to small pieces. If using cheddar or other hard cheese, grate coarsely. Combine with the chopped walnuts and raisins.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the flours, baking soda and salt and mix well.
  4. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the buttermilk. Stir lightly.
  5. Add the cheese, nuts, and raisins. Continue to mix either by hand or with a wooden spoon to form a soft, shaggy dough. You may need to work in a little extra flour (if too sloppy) or a little extra milk (if too dry). But don’t over-mix.
  6. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead very gently, just for a few seconds, then shape into a circle or oval.
  7. Bake for about 30-35 minutes. Loaf should be nicely browned and sound hollow when tapped from underside. (Good luck with this!) Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.

 

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19 Comments

  • Reply Amanda | What's Cooking September 6, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    Lindy, I love this post. I love your description of the meal in Italy, your encounter with the feelings and connections food can inspire in us. Blue cheese was a ‘no’ for me for a long time, but then I grew up and realized how amazing it is. There are very few ‘nos’ left on my list. I also love your acknowledgment of the current problem we have with wheat and your solution to find a way to embrace what is ancient and crucial to our society. This bread looks beautiful and rustic, the embodiment of everything good in bread. I hope you’re well! Wonderful writing!

    • Reply Lindy Mechefske September 6, 2016 at 4:06 pm

      Sweet, talented Amanda! Agree about the very few no’s left in my evolving diet. Now it’s about eating in a way that’s kinder to the planet. The UN says there will be 11.7 billion of us by 2050 and we’ll need 70% more food to feed humanity. Staggering.
      I love hearing from you. Thank you. xo

  • Reply Johanne Lamarche September 6, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    Oh Lindy, you have such a way with words! I think this is the most eloquent expression of the power of food to evoke memories and to bring one on a spiritual awakening that I have ever read. Perfectly expressed. Now that said, I can still be transported back to so many meals I enjoyed in Italy, my first trip abroad, in my 20s, with the young love, the scenery, the awakening and the discovery of really amazing food that eraced all language barriers. I think we are in good company. If I ever come to the Kingston area, I will let you know in advance just so you can make a loaf of this bread and I can beg for a slice! Sublime.

    • Reply Lindy Mechefske September 6, 2016 at 4:10 pm

      Johanne – please do come to Kingston and I’ll share my humble bread with you so happily! We’ll have wine and cheese and olives too! Maybe I’ll even make soup.
      Thanks for the generous comment – you are way too kind. I was in my twenties on that trip to Italy too. Still a hugely fond memory. Especially the food. I have an amazing memory for food (and very little else!). ♥♥

  • Reply apuginthekitchen September 6, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    I love your writing, it is so descriptive I feel like I was sitting with you having that divine sounding meal. I like bleu cheese, I don’t love it by itself but mixed in this bread or with fruit it is wonderful. The bread looks beautifully rustic and wholesome and I know how delicious it must be with a bowl of soup or stew and salad. The aboslute perfect meal. I have recently fallen in love with spelt and sneak it into just about anything I bake.

    • Reply Lindy Mechefske September 6, 2016 at 10:41 pm

      Suzanne – thank you!
      I’ve just spent the past half hour in your kitchen via your blog and love what you’re up to – such a healthy way of eating. That cauliflower crust made me so hungry. I can imagine how good that tastes. And the little souffles. And Percy. The Grumbler. Just beautiful. Oh and spelt. I need to get some and start using it. Can you post something spelt-y? ♥

  • Reply David More September 6, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    Truly wonderful writing, as always.

    • Reply love in the kitchen September 6, 2016 at 9:59 pm

      David, thank you. This means so much to me and touches my heart. ♥

  • Reply chef mimi September 6, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    Interesting! I thought this would be a yeasted bread because of the shape! I love breads like this alongside salads. Or served with even more cheese!!!

    • Reply Lindy Mechefske September 6, 2016 at 10:45 pm

      Yes, more cheese please! And true, it’s a simple soda bread – fast, easy, efficient. My favourite way to cook. Though truly, I’ve been looking at all the amazing things happening in your kitchen. That poached chicken pie… just gorgeous..

  • Reply Tasty Eats Ronit Penso September 6, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    I’m definitely on the “I do” side when it comes to blue cheese – any type, no discrimination!
    This bread is right up my alley – love all the ingredients and how they all mixed into a tasty bread. Beautiful. 🙂

    • Reply Lindy Mechefske September 6, 2016 at 10:47 pm

      Thanks Ronit. I could almost have guessed that – I think we share a love of big flavours.

  • Reply Yana September 7, 2016 at 4:32 am

    I love soda breads and your variation sounds wonderful! 🙂

    • Reply Lindy Mechefske October 4, 2016 at 9:21 am

      Thanks Yana. I love soda bread too. Always find it amazing that it can me made in 30 minutes or less and yet still tastes as good as any complex artisan bread.

  • Reply Iwanttobeacook September 7, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    Looks yummy 😉

  • Reply Stacey Bender October 3, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    I envy you your young Italy; what a memory I would love to still dream of today. Gnocchi, so perfect when it is made well, so heavy when it is not. Such a wonderful vehicle for creamy Gorgonzola! This bread sounds a lot like your writing, elegant, complex yet easy (to read).

    • Reply Lindy Mechefske October 4, 2016 at 9:18 am

      Stacey – so good to hear from you. Thanks for the lovely compliment!!
      I’ve never made good gnocchi – the dreamy, ethereal kind – have you? I’ve tried. Time to try again, I think.
      Hope all’s well in your world. xo

  • Reply patrick @alldayieat.com October 5, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    awesome post!! keep up the great work!!

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