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Croque-rarebit

on homemade granary bread

For the bread, weigh out the flour in a large bowl, add the salt and mix. Add the yeast and sugar followed by the water and combine to form a ball. Now either knead on a floury surface for 10-15 minutes until the dough is elastic, or if you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, this will also work fine.

For the first prove, return the dough to a bowl covering with a small drizzle of oil. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave to prove in a slightly warm setting until doubled in size, roughly 1 hour. Make sure the setting is not too warm or hot as the yeast will activate too much.

For the second prove, remove the proved dough and knock the air out on a floury surface.

Form into a short fat sausage, tucking the edges underneath to stretch the outside surface and place on a tray dusted with flour that you will bake on, also dust the top of the shaped dough with flour. Loosely cover with lightly oiled clingfilm, I actually use a small plastic tub to cover if you have one that has enough space for the dough to expand in, leave in a warm setting once more for roughly 30-45 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

While the dough is proving for the second time, preheat the oven to 220°C with an empty tray at the bottom. This is for cold water to be thrown on to create steam while the loaf is baking.

Remove the clingfilm or tub carefully so as not to knock any air out. Delicately score slashes across the loaf top with a sharp knife or razor.

Place in the oven to a middle shelf and quickly throw a small jug of water into the tray at the bottom and shut the door immediately. Continue to bake for 20 minutes, without opening the door, then remove the tray that the bread was sitting on and place the bread directly onto the shelf the opposite way around, to ensure an even colour. Continue to bake for 5-10 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove the bread from the oven, transfer to a cooling wire and leave to sit for at least 10-15 minutes.

For the topping, add all the ingredients for the ‘rarebit’ in to a small saucepan, heat gently until the cheese has just melted and all is combined. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Slice and toast four slices of bread.

Place the toasted bread on a tray and preheat your grill.

Divide the ham hock between the toasted slices, shredding it with your fingers if there are any lumps. Now divide the rarebit mixture over each. Place under the grill until the cheese is bubbling and starting to brown.

Chop the chives, scattering a pinch over the top and then eat before it gets cold!

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This recipe is a meeting of Wales and France, combining the welsh classic, welsh rarebit and the French classic, croque-monsieur. The two dishes are not too dissimilar to start with but together it is the ultimate, with the added twist of ham hock over plain old ham.

So boyos, bon appetit

If you ever happen to be in Bwlchgwyn or Ysbyty, or even YstwythLlanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, see if they can throw a bit of ham in, although this may be considered as vandalising a classic to many; and before you ask, I was not leaning on the keyboard, they are real Welsh place names.

dscf3071
Exmoor, Devon
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