Luckily, I have friends willing to sacrifice their own waistlines to help me eat all the food I make.
It’s a tough job, but they volunteered.
Do you guys know what one of the best things in the world is? Freshly baked bread. I made bread last night and the only reason I didn’t gobble it all up was because I finished eating dinner before it ever came out of the oven.
This bread was made with beer. And onions. And rosemary. And cheese. Cheese is the best (there are many things I consider “the best”). There is no such thing as ‘too much cheese.’ That is a concept not accepted in my reality. My reality is fun. And cheese filled.
Take this bread for instance. I made the dough, rolled it out, and sprinkled on cheese. Then I rolled it up, proofed it a bit, and baked it.
My friends don’t know it yet, but I’m going to share a loaf of this bread with them when I see them on Monday. We’ll see if they complain. I’m betting not.
So, I suppose you want the recipe for this amazing bread. Okay. I got this recipe out of Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day. If you like making bread at home, I suggest you get this book. It gives great step by step instructions on how to make all kinds of things and doesn’t assume you are a master baker or even know much of anything about bread making.
Soft Cheese Bread
Yield: 2 large loaves
6 ¼ c (28 oz) bread flour
2 tsp (0.5 oz) salt
5 tbs (2.25 oz) granulated or brown sugar, or 3 ½ tbs honey or agave nectar
1 c (8 0z) lukewarm water or beer (about 95*F)
1 c plus 2 tbs (9 oz) lukewarm buttermilk or any other milk (about 95*F)
1 ½ tbs (0.5 oz) instant yeast
¼ c (2 oz) melted unsalted butter or vegetable oil
1 ¾ (7 oz) diced onion or 1 small bunch of fresh chives (1 oz), minced (optional)
2 ½ c (12 oz) grated, shredded, or cubed cheese
You can make the dough ahead of time and decide when you want to bake it, or you can bake it the same day as you mix it. The following assumes you are going to make ahead and bake at a later date.
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, and sugar together (if using honey or agave nectar, dissolve it in the lukewarm water/beer instead). Separately, combine the water and buttermilk, whisk in the yeast until dissolved, then pour the mixture and melted butter into the dry ingredients. If using a mixer, use the paddle attachment and mix on the lowest speed for 2 minutes. If mixing by hand, use a large spoon and stir for about 2 minutes. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
Switch to the dough hood and mix on medium-low speed, or continue mixing by hand, for 3 minutes; adjusting with flour or liquid as needed. The dough should be soft, supple, and tacky, but not sticky. Add the onions and mix on the lowest speed, or continue mixing by hand, for 1 minutes, or until the onions are evenly distributed.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for 1 or 2 minutes to make any final adjustments, then form the dough into a ball.
Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and immediately refrigerate overnight or for up to 4 day. (If you plan to make the dough in batches over different days, you can potion the dough and place it in two or more oiled bows at this stage.) The dough should double in size in the refrigerator. If you want to bake the bread the same day you mix the dough, don’t refrigerate the final dough; just let it rest at room temperature for 60-90 minutes, until it doubles in size. Then proceed to shaping and baking.
On baking day, remove the dough from the refrigerator about 2 hours before you plan to bake. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and divide it into 2 equal pieces, each weighing about 2 pounds. Dust each piece with flour, then use a rolling pin to roll them into rectangles about 8 inches wide and 12 inches long. Spread half the cheese over the surface of one rectangle and roll the dough up like a rug, from top to bottom, to form a log. If any cheese falls out, tuck it back in. Seal the seam with your fingertips.
For sandwich loaf, proof the dough in a greased 4 ½ by 8 inch loaf ban (of a 5 by 9 in pan, if using onions, which increases the volume of the dough). For a free standing loaf, proof on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Mist the shaped dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap, then let the dough rise at room temperature for about 90 minutes, until increased to about 1 ½ times it’s original size. In loaf pans, the dough should dome about 1 inch above the rim.
About 15 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350*F, or 300*F for a convection oven. Because of the cheese, there may be air pockets or tunnels in the risen dough that could cause it to separate in the spirals. To minimize this, poke through the top crust in a few spots with a skewer or toothpick. The dough may fall a bit, but it will recover in the oven.
Bake loaves for 20 minutes, then rotate the pans. The total baking time is about 50 minutes. The bread is done withe it’s a deep golden brown and the internal temperature is above 185* in the center.
Remove from the pans and cool on a wire rack for about an hour before slicing.
After baking this, I have a few suggestions.
Unless you have a commercial sized stand mixer, halve this recipe or do it all by hand. My mixer didn’t appreciate me trying to make it all at once in it, and I wound up taking it off the stand and doing it by hand. To halve it, just keep in mind a quarter cup has 4 tablespoons in it, and you will be good to go.
You can use any type of beer you want and any type of cheese you want. I used an amber ale and a sharp white cheddar cheese. I would try to stay with a hard cheese, as it melts properly.
Another suggestion, before baking the bread, sprinkle it with more grated or shredded cheese. This will give it a nice crust on top. You can also incorporate any herbs into the bread that you would like. I added about 2 teaspoons of chopped rosemary to the bread while adding the onions, and it compliments it very well.