Hil and I are done with finals and have been planning to make homemade bread for oh, I don’t know, basically the whole semester, so we decided that today was the day! Hil made a variation of this bread last year with some of her rowing friends and loved it, and it was just as awesome tonight as it was last year. It made me remember that there’s nothing like a good slice of warm homemade bread with melty butter. Yum!
This recipe made two of the loaves that you see above. To make it, you’ll need:
3 cups of 100 degree water
1 1/2 T active dry yeast (that’s one and a half packets)
1 T salt
1 1/2 T sugar
6 1/2 cups of flour
1 cup grated cheese
cornmeal (for dusting)
1 cup of warm water (to set in the oven)
To start, mix the water, yeast, salt and sugar together in a bowl. The water must be between 100 and 110 degrees F so that it doesn’t kill the yeast. Leave those ingredients in the bowl for 10 minutes until the mixture starts to bubble slightly (which means that the yeast is activating).
Then add to that mixture the flour and grated cheese. You can stir it with a spoon, but you may have to incorporate the last of the flour with your hands. You can knead it slightly in the bowl, but over mixing will make it tough. Once everything is combined, set the bowl in a warm place (we put it on top of the oven, which was on a bit earlier in the day) and cover the bowl with a moist towel. Let it sit for 2 hours – get excited, it will double in size!
When you come back after two hours, your dough should look like this:
Take it out of the bowl and divide it in half, patting it into two long ovals. If you’d like smaller loaves, you can divide it into four smaller pieces. Dust two cookie sheets with cornmeal and place the dough on the pans, dusting the tops of the loaves with flour. Cover them again (they should look like the below picture) and let them rise for another hour.
When you come back, they should be doubled in size. Using a sharp knife, make a few cuts across the tops of the loaves at a diagonal and put them into a 450 degree F oven. You should also fill a small baking dish with the remaining cup of water and put that water into the back corner of the bottom of the oven. Putting water in the oven will make the crust of the bread crispy.
Our loaves cooked for 35 minutes each, but I would start with 25 minutes on the clock and check the loaves after that time period. When they are done, they will be golden brown and will sound hollow when you tap them with your finger. Smaller loaves will require less baking time. Once you’re done, cool them on a wire rack and then slice them. The recipe that we based this off of said that it should be eaten within seven days because of the cheese in the bread, but we’re not worried. Pretty sure it’ll be gone in a couple of days.