Camembert, the small, soft, cows’ milk cheese famously sold in a thin wooden box,
was, according to legend, created in Normandy by Marie Harel during the French
Revolution. It quickly became one of the most famous cheeses not just in France, but
in Europe, and made the fortunes of many dairies in the Auge region of northern
France. This is a quick and easy starter to share; or something special to serve at a
Christmas drinks party.
- 1 x 250g whole baking camembert
- 1 parbake white baguette
- 3tbsp olive oil plus a little to serve
- sprigs of fresh thyme
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- a little cranberry sauce to serve
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/180°C fan/Gas 6. Remove the Camembert from its packaging, then place back in the box.
Put in a roasting tin and mark the rind with a lattice pattern (see pic), leaving a 1.5cm gap between the shape and the edge. Slice the baguette and arrange in the roasting tin. Drizzle with half the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and scatter with a few sprigs of fresh thyme.
Pop in the oven for about 5-7 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn the slices of bread over, drizzle with the rest of the oil and cook for a further 5-8 minutes until the toast is crisp and golden and the inside of the cheese is nice and runny (the exact time depends on how ripe the cheese is). If the toast is cooking faster than the cheese, remove the toast from the oven and set aside for a couple of minutes. Leave for a minute or so, then remove from the box.
Put the cheese on a serving plate, drizzle with a little cranberry sauce, and scatter with sprigs of fresh thyme. Gently peel back the cheese rind to reveal the gooey cheese, and serve with the hot, crispy toast and extra cranberry sauce.
Don’t be fazed by the “baking camembert”. You can use any 250g camembert but if it is very ripe, then reduce the cooking time. If you slice the baguette thinly, that, too, will cook a little quicker.