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pain au siegle

fresh pain au siegle bread from the bakery

baked camembert and boule

score the camembert and place inside the boule

baked camembert and boule

top with caramelized onions

baked camembert and boule

slice into the warm crusty bread, drenched in rich cheese and sweet onions

I’ve felt so guilty about not being on my blog here for a while and so relieved to be back. I have so much to share and can’t wait to get it all down. My absence wasn’t the Thanksgiving madness but my new passion for artisan bread. Oh yes, I have been bread baking like a… a bread fiend, I guess. But more on that later.

So it’s the day after a lovely Thanksgiving. Everything went miraculously well, minus a single smashed champagne glass. And, assessing the food and drink, my favorite dish of all was hands down this simple but oh-so-fabulous starter of wine, bread and cheese.

Camembert baked in a fresh boule with caramelized onions. Oh. My. God. We ate almost the whole thing and polished off a bottle of dry Riesling along with it. I may try this again at Christmas, perhaps with some other toppings such as figs, garlic and rosemary, sun dried tomatoes or chili jam. In the meantime, this is highly recommended.

1 smallish boule, such as pain au levain, from a good bakery
1 wheel camembert
2 onions, sliced thinly
1 tbs butter
1 tbs brown sugar
splash white wine
olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Heat up some olive oil and add the sliced onions, the brown sugar, salt and pepper and splash of white wine. Fry on a medium heat, stirring occasionally and turning down the heat if they start to burn. It will take about 20 minutes to cook them until soft, sweet and a nice caramelized brown. Taste as you go and add more salt and pepper if needed.

2. Carve out a lid from the boule and scoop out enough of the bread to fit a wheel of camembert inside. This leftover bread can be fried into croutons. I added it to a mushroom, leek and gruyere bread pudding.

3. Butter the inside of the bread and the bottom of the bread lid. Score the camembert all over so it doesn’t explode when it bakes. Tuck it inside the bread and spoon all the caramelized onions on top. Place the bread lid back on top.

4. Bake at 325 or 350 for about 30 minutes. You can pull it out and check inside whenever you like. It is done when the cheese is melted and gooey inside.

The bread will be hot and crispy on the outside, but light as air on the inside. Be careful cutting this as the cheese will seep out. Just dip the chunks of bread in it. We used a spoon to slather the cheese and onions over the pieces of warm bread. I find this superior to the brie or camembert baked in puff pastry. That is heavenly too, but on the greasy and heavy side. Camembert baked in the fresh rustic bread is lighter and more delicate. As for the cheese, choose camembert over brie for this. I picked up a pain au seigle from Balthazar Bakery in NYC, which was made with rye and whole wheat flour and needed a good strong tasting (and super gooey) cheese like camembert. If using brie, I would recommend a triple creme.

*inspired by the lovely farine blog