This is my go-to starter in the winter when I am a bit pushed for time but want something utterly delicious so my guests don’t feel like I’m cheating! The first time I tasted this recipe was in my friend Giana Ferguson’s house in Gubbeen Farm, West Cork – she makes the famed Gubbeen cheese. She served this to me in her cosy farmhouse kitchen using her semi-soft Gubbeen cheese – I can still remember the sensation of scooping the crunchy, warm bread into the gooey aromatic cheese and that first mouthful of silky-smooth cheese infused with rosemary and garlic!
FOR THE CRISPBREADS
100ml warm water
½ teaspoon fast-action dried yeast
210g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for oiling and brushing
3 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked and finely chopped, plus extra sprigs, to decorate (optional)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE BAKED CHEESE
1 whole Vacherin Mont d’Or
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
50ml dry white wine
To make the crispbreads, pour the water into a bowl, sprinkle in the yeast and whisk together well. Leave for 5 minutes until the mixture starts to foam.
Sift the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour the yeast mixture into the well and add the olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Stir together until a dough forms – it should be moist but not sticky.
Tip the dough onto a floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with a clean tea-towel or clingfilm and place in a warm, dry spot, such as an airing cupboard, for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Line a large baking sheet with greaseproof paper (or use two baking sheets). Divide the dough into eight pieces and roll out each piece on a lightly floured work surface into a rectangle measuring about 24 x 10cm. Transfer to the lined baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with the chopped rosemary and some salt.
Bake for 15 minutes or until crisp and golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on wire racks.
To prepare the baked cheese, remove the lid from the cheese box. Make several slits in the top of the cheese with a sharp knife and sprinkle over the crushed garlic, chopped rosemary and white wine. Season with salt and pepper. Place the lid back on the cheese box, sit the box on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes until melted.
To serve, remove the lid from the cheese box and place the box on a wooden serving board, then arrange the crispbreads around the cheese and scatter over some sprigs of rosemary for decoration, if you wish.