Just go ahead and make it! Make extra, it's addictive!
The best part about this recipe (other than the extremely delicious factor) is that it can be frozen :) Since this recipe makes a pretty big batch, 9 little spirals, bake as many as your family will eat and freeze the rest for when that craving hits.
I love the heartiness that whole wheat flower adds to this recipe. You can make it exactly like I do or switch it up a few different ways:
1) with all white, unbleached bread flour
2) with all whole wheat flour (it will be more dense and not as light, but still yummy)
Here's my recipe:
Makes 9 little spiral loaves:
3 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups unbleached white bread flour
3 and 1/2 cups warm water, or more if needed (100 degrees)
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 heaping teaspoons yeast
feta cheese, as much as you like
freshly chopped rosemary
Mix the yeast in the warm water.
Place the flour and the salt in a pot, large bowl or bucket. It should be able to hold 6 quarts. Mix well with a whisk so that the salt gets incorporated.
Add water and yeast mixture and mix with a wooden spoon or with your hands. You do not have to knead this dough. Just mix until everything is incorporated making sure that the dough stays wet and sticky. Add 1/4 cup of water if needed. If you are using half whole wheat flour, you will need to add water.
Once it is all mixed, cover loosely leaving some room for gases to release. Leave it alone to rise, undisturbed for about 2 hours.
Put the container in the refrigerator and let it rest overnight.
The dough will stay fresh up to 8 days. It's a good idea to make a double batch if you plan on making fresh bread often during the week. The longer it stays in the refrigerator the more sourdough flavor will develop.
When you are ready to bake a fresh loaf of bread, take about a large grapefruit sized ball of dough out from the refrigerated mixture. Form it into 3 round balls. Each ball will create 3 feta filled spirals of bread. So keep that in mind. The entire batch of dough will make a total of 9 spiral loaves which you may bake in one day or you may freeze for a later time.
You do not have to utilize all of the dough for this recipe. You may save it and make a whole wheat cinnamon raisin bread or whole wheat Italian bread.... Do this by storing the remaining dough back in the refrigerator until ready to bake :)
Cut each round ball of dough into 3 equal pieces and dust with some flour if they are too sticky. Set them aside to rest covered with a clean kitchen towel for 15 minutes up to 1 hour. The closer the dough is to room temperature, the easier it will be to stretch out and fill.
Once the dough has rested, dust your work surface with very little flour and roll it out into a long oval about 12-13 inches long. If the dough has rested for a long time, you will be able to stretch the dough easily with your fingers by pressing it down and pushing it as I did in the video demonstration. You may also use a rolling pin if you prefer.
Sprinkle some oregano on top of the dough and crumble feta down the center of each strip from top to bottom. Be generous :)
Fold the dough over the feta and pinch the edges all around with your fingers. If you have applied too much flour and it is not sealing, wet your fingers and then seal it all around. Keep it in the shape of a long strip.
Sprinkle the freshly chopped rosemary over the strip from top to bottom.
Roll the dough from the bottom going up to form a pinwheel. Just like you would roll up a cinnamon roll :)
Repeat this process with all of your dough.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle some semolina flour where you will place the pinwheels.
Put the pinwheels on the baking sheet over the semolina flour and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Set them aside to rise for about 1-1 and 1/2 hours, depending on how warm your home is. They will almost double in size.
Preheat your oven to 500 degrees while the dough is rising. Remember to set a cast iron pan either on the bottom rack or on the flour of your oven. It is also a good idea to keep a pizza stone in there also. It helps make for a bakery quality bread.
Freezing instructions: You may freeze the extra feta bread dough that you have prepared before it rises. Just place it in a plastic freezer bag and into your freezer. When you are ready to bake it, defrost it overnight in the refrigerator and then place it on a parchment paper lined baking sheet with semolina flour on top. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside to rise for about 1-1 and 1/2 hours or until almost doubled in size and then follow the remaining baking and cooling instructions.
While the dough is resting and rising, preheat the oven to 500 degrees and place a cast iron skillet on the floor of the oven. Place oven tiles or a pizza stone near the middle of the oven. Make sure that the oven preheats for at least 35 minutes. Longer is better!
When the dough is ready to bake, brush the tops with some water and sprinkle some sesame seeds over the tops with some more rosemary.
Place your baking sheet with the bread in it in the oven and pour a glass of ice water into the cast iron skillet that is on the bottom of your oven. This will create steam, so be careful.
Close the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 450 degrees.
Bake for 30 minutes and then remove the bread from the baking pan and place it on the oven stone or pizza stone and bake it for about 5-7 more minutes or until the bread emits a hollow sound when you knock on the bottom of it. If you do not have a pizza stone, just let it continue to bake in the baking sheet until ready.
Note: Baking time varies depending on the size of your loaves of bread. Smaller loaves will cook faster and larger ones will take some extra time.
Remove from oven when ready and let it rest and cool for 15 minutes before slicing.
This feta bread tastes best warm. Store any leftovers in an airtight bag or container and reheat in the oven until warm again before serving.