For one of the monthly lunches I co-host a work we decided to have a ‘back to school’ theme. I instantly thought of packed lunches and filled sandwiches, a favourite of mine being cheese and pickle which I used to have every day after nursery in my Thomas the Tank Engine lunch box (I kid you not).
Whilst I could have just made sandwiches, I thought it would be more fun to make them with a twist, literally. By taking two classic sandwich fillings I’ve incorporated them into the bread itself which I’ve then twisted together to give you a loaf which is packed full of flavour and where every bite is different.
This filled bread has everything you need for a lunch or picnic and can all be made in advance. Once baked you can slice, wrap, and you’re set!
Makes 2 loaves
Hands-on Time 50 minutes
Proving Time +2 hours
Baking Time 30-35 minutes
500g Strong white bread flour (plus extra for dusting)
2 tsp Fast-action yeast
2 1/2 tsp Fine salt
45g Unsalted butter (softened)
325ml Full-fat milk
Oil for greasing (flavourless e.g. sunflower or vegetable)
2 Red onions
1/2 tsp Caster sugar
50ml Red wine vinegar
1 tsp Marmite
100g Sun-dried tomatoes
1 tsp Oregano, dried
200g Gruyère (ready grated)
Place the flour into a large bowl.
Add the yeast to one side and 2 tsp of salt to the other, followed by 30g of butter.
Using one hand, start drawing together the ingredients, adding the milk using the other.
Keep adding the milk until the ingredients have been incorporated and you have a soft and sticky/wet dough.
You may not need all of the milk.
Tip the dough out onto the worktop.
Start kneading. The dough requires about 10 minutes of kneading until it's smooth, soft, and elastic. You can use a free-standing mixer if you wish, however I prefer to do this by hand.
Once the dough is ready, place it in a very lightly oiled bowl and cover with lightly oiled clingfilm.
Leave until it has doubled in size. This will take at least an hour.
If you want to make the dough in advance, you can prove it in the fridge overnight.
Whilst the dough is proving get on with making the fillings.
Firstly peel and finely slice the onions.
Place the frying pan over a medium heat and add 15g of butter. Once the butter starts to foam add the sliced onions and 1/2 tsp of salt.
Stir occasionally for 5 minutes until they have softened.
Add the sugar and red wine vinegar and stir again.
Cover the frying pan with foil and leave to sweat for 15 minutes.
Once the time is up remove the foil and stir in the marmite.
Take the pan off the heat and leave to cool.
Now to make the sun-dried tomato paste.
Add the sun-dried tomatoes to the mini-blender along with the oregano. It’s okay if the tomatoes are still a little oily.
Pulse until you have a thick paste.
Cover a baking sheet with baking parchment.
Once the dough has risen, knock out the air and tip onto a lightly floured worktop.
Divide the dough in half and take one piece, placing it directly in front of you.
Roll the dough out into a rectangle measuring 30cm x 40cm. Lift the dough occasionally, adding flour underneath to ensure it doesn’t stick.
Take the red onion and scatter it over the dough. Using the back of the spoon gently spread it all over the surface.
Sprinkle half of the cheese over the onion.
Starting with the nearest length, roll the dough away from you.
Roll the dough so the join is facing upwards and pinch it shut.
Now roll the dough forwards so it’s resting with the sealed join underneath.
Take the second piece of dough and roll out into another rectangle, the same size as before.
This time spread the tomato paste over the surface of the dough using the back of the spoon.
Sprinkle over the remaining cheese before rolling the dough up. Again pinch the join to seal.
In order to achieve the twisted loaf you have the slice both of the rolls in half, length-ways. I would recommend you press down with a sharp knife and avoid sawing when doing this.
Once you have halved the rolls you may find they suddenly open up, this isn’t the end of the world if this happens. You can pinch them shut in places.
As you want to twist one of the onion halves together with one of the tomato halves you do need to swap two of them around.
I’d suggest you go with the halves closest to each other.
Pull one of the halves away so there is a gap. Lift the one you need to swap it with enough so you can move it into place, don’t hesitate when doing this. Once it’s in place, roll it over so the exposed sides are facing each other. You can now roll the half you moved away over so again the exposed sides are facing each other.
Now you can get on with the twisting.
Push the halves together. Grab the ends of the rolls so you are able to lift both of them together. You need to twist you hands like you would when wringing out a towel. Only lift the dough enough so it clears the work surface and twist at the same time. Lower it onto the worktop whilst you grab the ends of the dough again. Don’t hesitate between twists otherwise you will lose filling. Repeat the twisting action a couple of times until you’re happy with the loaf.
Transfer the loaf to the baking parchment and tuck the ends underneath the loaf.
Repeat with the remaining halves.
Cover loosely with very lightly oiled clingfilm.
Leave the dough to prove for an hour or so until it has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C(Fan)/400°F/Gas mark 6.
Uncover and bake the bread in the middle of the oven for 30-35 minutes.
Check on the loaf after 20 minutes. If you're worried that it's starting to colour too much gently place a square of tin foil on top if it. You don't need to wrap it around the bread, resting will do.
When baked, the bread should sound hollow when tapped underneath. Use the parchment to help you overturn the loaves when testing to see if they’re baked.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.