Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends
Pepper Cheese Loaves and Cheese Batter Bread
The best complement to soup is a loaf of good bread. A pot of soup simmering on the stove, inspires me to make bread. To accompany soup, I often bake a bread similar to the homey white variety, only I enrich it with Cheddar cheese. The cheddar in the bread provides a tantalizing sharp flavor. A slice or two of this nourishing bread with a bowl of soup is a small but satisfying, nutritional meal.
The ingredients in the two following bread recipes are similar, but different proportions produce two types of cheese breads. The Pepper cheese loaves use the standard old-fashioned method of kneading and rising, while the cheese batter bread is a quicker version that rises faster and requires no kneading.
To really savor the cheese flavor in these breads, why not make any leftovers into small croutons to sprinkle over soup. To make 2 cups croutons, cut 4 slices of bread into cubes about 1-inch square. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast, tossing occasionally, in a preheated 350 degree oven until crisp, about 15 minutes. Cool and store in an airtight container.
Pepper Cheese Loaves
makes 2 loaves
This bread is not only enriched with cheese, it is also seasoned with pepper. Besides soup it is a welcome accompaniment to crab cioppino or a favorite lentil dish.
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons solid shortening
1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
1 package active dry yeast
6 cups flour, divided
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
Combine milk, sugar and shortening in a small saucepan and heat just until shortening melts; cool to 105 degrees. In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the water. Set aside to proof and soften. Add milk mixture and 2 cups flour to yeast mixture, beat with paddle attachment until smooth. Add 2 cups more flour, salt and pepper. Then beat in remaining flour to make a soft dough.
With hook attachment knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Place in a oiled bowl, turning to grease top. Cover bowl and let rise in a warm place, about 2 hours or until doubled in bulk.
Punch dough down, and work it briefly and gently with hands to press out bubbles or deflate it. Sprinkle half cheese over dough, fold in half and knead for 1 minute. Sprinkle remaining cheese on dough and knead just until dough absorbs it.
Divide dough in half, cover each half loosely with plastic and let rest 10 minutes only. Grease generously two 9 x 5 inch bread pans. Press one half into a flat oval, the length of the loaf pan. Roll it up, tuck under the ends, and place it seam side down in the loaf pan. Repeat with other dough. Cover each pan with plastic wrap and set in warm place until dough centers reach the rim or slightly above, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven 375 degrees and bake 35 to 40 minutes or until deep brown and loaves sound hollow when tapped.
Cheese Batter Bread
makes 2 loaves
Here's a stickier, softer mixture, more a batter than a dough. This consistency makes it difficult to knead, therefore beating the batter in this bread is necessary. Be sure to beat the dough until it leaves the sides of the bowl.
4 1/2 to 5 1/3 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 packages active dry yeast
1 cup milk
1 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
Combine milk, 1/2 cup water, and butter in a small sauce pan and heat just until butter melts. Set aside to cool. In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over 1/2 cup of the water. Set aside to proof and soften. Place 1 3/4 cups flour, the sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, gradually add the liquids to the dry ingredients and beat 2 minutes at medium speed, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Add cheese, egg and 3/4 cup flour, or enough to make a thick batter. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes, again scraping bowl occasionally. Gradually stir in just enough of the remaining flour to make a stiff batter so that it leaves the sides of the bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk, about 1 hour.
Adjust rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 375 degrees. With a wooden spoon, stir the raised batter down until the batter is almost its original volume. Beat it vigorously for 1 minute. Place batter into two deep, well-greased, 1-quart round casseroles. Bake 40 to 50 minutes, or until golden. Cool 5 minutes, then remove them and cool, rounded sides up, on wire racks.
Flo Braker has been teaching baking techniques and her sweet miniatures across the country for twenty years and is the author of several cookbooks.