I have been baking so much bread lately, I’ve had to double my shopping list for baking essentials. At first I felt a little shame at the amount of flour that was being ‘heaved’ across the checkout belt, but quickly changed my mind. I’m a woman on a mission! My freezer is going to be full of all types of beautiful healthy breads because of it and for that, I will only feel warm and fuzzy thoughts.
This bread is not the most healthy, I will admit, however it’s a beauty and it’s a wonderful side dish to a salad or pasta dish. It’s the kind that you just take one thick slice, while it’s still warm and the butter will still melt over it, and eat it alongside your dinner with. It’s rich and flavorful and oh so garlic-cheesey-delightful!
I found a recipe in a cook book a long time ago that I made my own. So here’s my version of a soft delicate cheese bread that will make you quiver in caloric anticipation.
1 package (¼ ounce) dry active yeast
1 ¼ cups warm water at 110 degrees
2 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons, of extra virgin olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon of fresh minced garlic
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 ½ teaspoons white distilled vinegar
3 cups of bread flour, plus more for work surface
1 ½ cups of small cubed medium cheddar cheese (keep cold until used)
Egg wash – 1 egg & 1 tablespoon water
In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water completely. Then add the oil, sugar, salt, garlic, vinegar and 2 cups of the flour. Stir it together until it’s smooth and there’s no lumps. Then stir in the last cup of flour to get a firm dough formed. It should not be too sticky. Add a little flour to the mix if you cannot work it with your hands without being too sticky. Add the cheese.
Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead it until it is smooth and elastic. About 8-10 minutes. Place in a large greased bowl, and turn it to grease the top. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise for 60-90 minutes until it has doubled in size. (Tip – I like to make sure it’s in a warm spot, so I often turn on my stove to 350 degrees, then turn it off. I let my bowl sit on top of stove (not on an element) so it’s on a warm surface).
Once doubled, punch your dough down and divide it in half. You should have two small (about 6 inch around) loaves. Grease 2 baking sheets with a little olive oil spray and set the two loaves on each sheet. Cover them both with a light cloth and let them rise again for another hour until doubled in size.
Once doubled for the second time, make your egg wash and beat it together until combined. Use a pastry brush to cover each loaf. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes (check at 20 minutes and add as needed – depending on your oven), or until you have a very slight golden brown color. Cool on a wire rack. Slice and serve.
Here’s how mine turned out:
Dissolve your yeast in the warm water.
Add the oil.
Sugar and salt.
You want to use bread flour, not regular all purpose flour. Here’s what I used.
Add in your first two cups. Or in my case, use a little child labor and watch my three year old helper do it.
Work it all together until most of the lumps are out and it’s smooth.
Then add your last cup of flour.
Have your cut up cheese ready to go. Here in the Pacific Northwest, most of us are die-hard fans of Tillamook Cheddar. It’s the best there is. No competition. Don’t ask me to use anything else because I won’t!
Once your dough is just coming together, it should look like this.
You can add your cheese, flour your hands a little and start to work it together very gently.
Once it’s just combined, turn it out onto your floured work surface and start to knead it.
The cheese was cold, from the fridge, and it keeps its shape and shouldn’t get to ‘smooshed’ while you knead it. It will work itself into the dough and will evenly spread through on its own. A few pieces always try to run for the hills, but I just push them back in and keep going. Because where do you think you’re going little one?. Nowhere, except in this dough, that’s where.
Once it’s totally kneaded and the cheese is firmly combined, you should have a pretty smooth ball of dough that’s not too sticky. The cheese has really worked it’s way through the dough as well so you don’t see those big chunks.
Transfer it to your greased bowl and flip it to coat the whole ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for 60-90 minutes in a warm place.
In the meantime, get your two baking pans out and grease them. I just use an extra virgin olive oil spray. And rub it all over to make sure it’s coated.
About 90 minutes later, the dough has more than doubled in size and already smells wonderful.
Punch it down. Do your hands always look weird when you do this? Or is it just me? Every time….I think because I have only recently started photographing this, does it make me step back and roll my eyes. My whole arm is slightly “off”. But let’s try to move on. I sure need to.
Divide it in two pieces.
Form each piece into a nice round ball so the tops are smooth, and put each in the center of the baking pans. Cover again and let it rise one more time for about 60 minutes.
An hour later, they again doubled in size.
Get your egg and water to make your eggwash.
Whisk them together.
Then get your pastry brush out and start to cover each piece.
Get around the edges and cover the whole thing. It gives it a beautiful shine and nice golden color when it bakes! Throw them into your pre-heated oven and bake them at 375 degrees.
25 minutes later, you will have two beautiful loaves of round bread that both look and smell delicious. Transfer them to a cooling rack and try your hardest to wait until they cool down a bit before cutting into them. It’s hard, but patience is a virtue friends.
Use a very sharp, serrated knife when cutting these babies up. They are very soft and delicate. You don’t want to push down and squish these girls. They need a soft hand and a little love when going in for the kill.
When using cheddar cheese in bread, I find that you don’t normally see the orange chunks of cheese through the bread when you have kneaded it so much, but since we put quite a bit in the dough, they are certainly there. (I think the lighting in my kitchen is also hiding what you see in real life vs. the photo!).
The flavor of this bread is full and rich and one thick slice, or maybe two if you’re like me, will be just enough to go along with a meal. It melts in your mouth and makes all the troubles from your day disappear in less than two seconds. It really is that good.
PS – Don’t forget the butter.
– The Homesteaders Wife