You'll need to begin the pickled onion recipe 3 weeks ahead for
the flavours to develop. The onion-rye bread is best eaten on the
day of making.
To serve:aged Cheddar, such as Quickes TraditionalTo serve:shop-bought fruit chutneyPickled onions2 tbspsea salt flakes500 gmpickling onions, trimmed4small red chillies, halved lengthways2fresh bay leaves1 tbsp eachblack peppercorns and fennel seeds500 ml (2 cups)white wine vinegar2 tbspwhite sugarOnion-rye bread350 gm each of“00” flour and rye flour20 gmbrown sugar20 gmdried yeast250 ml (1 cup)milk2 tbspolive oil1½onions, thinly sliced1 tspfennel seeds, plus extra for dusting
For pickled onions, combine salt and 500ml cold water in a non-reactive bowl and stir until salt dissolves. Add onions and stand overnight, then drain and rinse. Pack into sterilised jars, layering with chilli, bay leaves and spices. Combine vinegar and sugar in a saucepan, stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves, bring to the simmer and cook until a light syrup forms (4-5 minutes). Pour onto onions to completely cover, seal and stand at room temperature for at least 3 weeks for flavours to develop.
For onion-rye bread, preheat oven to 180C. Combine flours, sugar, yeast and 2 tsp sea salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Combine milk and 310ml water in a saucepan, warm over low heat to lukewarm, then, with motor running, add to flour mixture, kneading until smooth and elastic (4-5 minutes). Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (45 minutes-1 hour). Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add onion and stir occasionally until caramelised (12-15 minutes), add fennel seeds, stir until fragrant (1 minute), season to taste and set aside. Knock down dough, roll out on a lightly floured surface to a 25cm x 30cm rectangle. Spread with onion mixture, then, with shortest side facing you, roll away from you to form a cylinder. Place in an oiled 11cm x 27cm loaf tin, cover and stand until risen (20-30 minutes). Brush top with water, scatter with extra fennel seeds and salt and bake until golden and cooked through (50-60 minutes; loaf will sound hollow when tapped). Turn onto a wire rack to cool completely. Serve thickly sliced with pickled onions, aged Cheddar and fruit chutney.