Flavoured with the classic combination of blue cheese and walnuts, it’s very hard to resist this loaf – the aroma as it bakes is superb, and it emerges from the oven textured and golden. It’s almost a meal in itself, but is great with soups and salads.
Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas 6. Trim the rind from the Stilton, then crumble the cheese fairly coarsely into a medium bowl. Add the walnut pieces and sultanas and mix well.
Tip the white and wholemeal flours into a very large mixing bowl. Add the bicarbonate of soda and salt and mix thoroughly. Make a well in the centre and pour in 800ml buttermilk. You need to work quickly from now on. Using your hand, or a wooden spoon, mix everything together to make a slightly soft, shaggy-looking dough. Flours vary, and if the mixture feels very dry, or there are crumbs at the bottom of the bowl and it's difficult to bring the dough together, work in more buttermilk (or milk) a tablespoon at a time.
Lightly dust the worktop with wholemeal flour and turn out the dough. Divide it into 2 equal portions, by weight or by eye. Gently knead one portion, just for a few seconds, to form a ball about 17cm across. Set it on a lined baking sheet and cut a deep cross into the ball. Sprinkle with flour. Repeat with the second portion of dough.
Bake the loaves in the heated oven for 30–35 minutes until they are a good golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the underside – check the loaves after 25 minutes and rotate the baking sheets, if necessary, so the loaves bake evenly. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.