Bread and cheese. Bread. And. cheese. Bread and cheese. Oh, that is just so unfair. How could I possibly pass that up?!? We're talking about someone who could potentially live on bread and cheese. The standard beginning to all of our meals when I go back to my parents' house is cheese and crackers. As in a half dozen different types of cheese and about the same number of cracker varieties. We're talking about someone for whom the mocking "Do you want some pasta with that parmesan?" came very often while growing up (and being grown up).
So. Un. Fair.
Which is why, when I did bake my bread with cheese, I used no less than three different types of cheese - almost every type that I currently had in my fridge (drat - I just realized that I had feta in there too!). Extra sharp Wisconsin cheddar, havarti with dill, and parmesan. Oh, it just makes me happy thinking about all the cheese that's still left in my fridge for me to snack on later tonight.
I used a base bread from a bread book that my dad got me for Christmas - the first recipe I've made out of it. And while it didn't follow the charming habit that many of the breads in there do of baking in a coffee can, it was astoundingly good. An Old Order Amish bread, with a dense and soft crumb, perfect for sandwiches. With a dash of toasted wheat germ and some wheat gluten, it matched perfectly with each cheese. I divided it into quarters after the initial kneading and kneaded each type of cheese into its own portion of dough, leaving one bit plain. Each quarter was halved after the first rise and placed in a spot in my little mini loaf pan before baking.
Once baked? Well, I probably should have topped each of these with their respective cheeses, but I didn't exactly keep track of what cheese I put in what part of dough. The cheddar was slightly orange and the havarti had little bits of dill poking out, but I couldn't see which was parmesan and which was plain before baking. After, I found the different levels of browning very neat - little flecks of darkly browned cheese on the parmesan ones, very dark and evenly browned cheddar ones, and the palest was the plain! Each one, while different, made for perfect breakfasts, snacks, and dinner accompaniments. And now, five days later, they're all gone. *sigh*
Thanks to Temperance at High on the Hog for hosting this month's BBD; I'll be sending this on to Susan for her Yeastspotting too!
Old Order Amish Cheese Bread (adapted from Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads)
2 1/2 - 3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
scant 1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups hot water
scant 1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon wheat gluten
1 Tablespoon toasted wheat germ
grated cheddar, havarti, and parmesan (as much as you'd like - I used ~2 Tbs each)
In a large mixing bowl, measure out 1 cups flour, the yeast, sugar, salt, water, oil, gluten, and wheat germ. Stir together with a wooden spoon. Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a rough mass has formed. Turn the dough out onto a counter and continue kneading until the dough is elastic but not sticky. I kneaded for about 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into four portions (each approximately 5 oz) and knead each cheese into its respective quarter of the dough. Leave the last quarter plain. Grease four small bowls and place the doughs in them for the first rise. Cover and allow the dough to rise 1 1/2 hours or until doubled.
Turn out each portion of dough and divide each in half. Shape into loaves and place each into one of eight greased mini loaf pans. Cover and proof for about one hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F 20 minutes before the dough is done proofing.
Put the loaves in the oven. Turn the temperature down to 350 degrees F after 10 minutes. Continue baking for another 15-20 minutes until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped.
Remove the bread from the oven and tip out of the pans. Allow to cool on a rack for at least an hour before slicing.