My niece Flo whose beautiful and passionate blog, Makanai, is a treasure trove for gourmets and gourmands of all ilks as well as a mine of information on food intolerances and ways of coping with them - in French, I know, but there is always Google Translator) recently called attention on her Facebook page to a most appealing and ingenious appetizer, Camembert rôti en croûte de pain (literally Camembert baked in a bread crust), posted by Cindy of Food for Thoughts.
Baked Bries or Camemberts are nothing new. But a French cheese baked inside a miche au levain (a sourdough boule), now, that's something I had yet to see. As luck would have it, we had just bought a pair of French Camemberts at Costco.
I had no boules in my freezer and no immediate prospect of baking one since my levain was still in reactivation mode after our long absence. However our local Trader Joe's came to the rescue once more: I found there a boule of just the right size, made exclusively of flour, water and salt. Perfect!
I followed the original recipe to a t (except that I didn't use sugar and that, having no garlic powder on hand, I just rubbed the inside of the hollowed-out miche with a fresh clove). I am not kidding myself that our baked Camembert was as flavorful as Cindy's. It did come from France but it wasn't made from raw unpasteurized milk, so it was certainly a good bit tamer than the one she was able to find in London. But it was still good enough that nobody seemed to mind (the bread was crisp on the outside and the cheese deliciously velvety and smokey-spicy). At least I imagine that's the reason why it vanished so fast. Thank you, Cindy, for this great idea! Just in time for holiday entertaining too...
Make sure the cheese fits inside the hollowed-out boule
but don't bake it with the wrapper still on!
- 1 Camembert from France (preferably made from raw unpasteurized milk if available in the country where you live)
- 1 small sourdough boule (not San Francisco sourdough though as the sourness might overpower the cheese)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (I used chipotle chili)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (see above for possible substitution)
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1 tablespoon salted butter
Note: the original recipe also calls for 1/2 teaspoon of sugar but I didn't use any.
Don't you love the fragrance of garlic on fresh crumb?
To maximize it, split the clove in two
- Pre-heat the oven to 356°F/180° C (using convection if available)
- Cut off the top of the boule and set aside
- Hollow out the center of the boule and of the lid (making sure the Camembert easily fits into both)
- In a small bowl, mix chili, garlic powder (if using. If not using, rub the inside of the bread and of the lid with raw clove of garlic) and mustard powder
- Lightly butter the inside of the boule and of the lid
- Generously sprinkle the inside of the boule and of the lid with spice mixture
- Pre-cut the boule all around to make it easier to pull out croûtons later on (see picture)
- Scrape the Camembert all around, not forgetting the sides and bottom
- Place inside the hollowed boule, scatter rest of spice mixture over it
- Place the lid over the cheese making sure it fits the bottom snugly
- Bake in pre-heated oven for 30 minutes
- Let cool a few minutes before serving (serve the top alongside so that guests can rip chunks of it to dip in the melted cheese when the sides of the boule are all eaten up).
All dressed up and ready for the oven