Sunday, October 16, 2011
Twisted Cheese Bread
A few years ago, Dwight bought me 3 or 4 bread books for my birthday. One was the Bread Baker's Apprentice. If you've been with me for a while, you'll know that I joined a baking group that made every bread in the book from start to finish.
One of the other books he bought was Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads. I'm pretty sure it would take nearly the rest of my live to bake through this one given that it has approximately 3 trillion recipes. OK, not really. There are at LEAST 200, though, so I don't have any plans to bake my way through the whole thing. But I hadn't made bread in what felt like eons, so I picked up this hefty book and searched for something that would strike my fancy. And involved cheese.
I found this one. It has beer (or you can use milk) plus 2 kinds of cheese. Some of you might gasp and/or cringe when I tell you that one of the cheeses used is... process American cheese. BUT! The other is Swiss. Will that help you get over your shock at the American cheese? No? What if I tell you that this bread rocks my socks and makes amazing sandwich bread? I knew I'd change your mind.
Twisted Cheese Bread
adapted from Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads
Yields 2 medium loaves
1 12oz bottle of can or beer, or 1-1/2 cups milk (I used a bottle of honey wheat beer.)
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp butter
8oz process American cheese (recipe says you can use process Swiss if you prefer)
5-6 cups bread flour (can use AP if you don't have bread flour on hand)
1 Tbsp SAF instant yeast (or 2 packets if you don't have a large jar of yeast like I do)
8oz natural Swiss cheese cut into 1/2" cubes (Just realized the recipe calls for 1/4" cubes. I misread and made my large. Either size should be fine. Smaller cubes will be a bit easier to incorporate and will mean smaller but more frequent pockets of cheese.)
In medium sauce pan, combine beer (or milk), water, sugar, salt, butter and process cheese. Cook over medium heat stirring frequently until mixture is hot and cheese is nearly melted. It won't completely melt and will be thick. Remove from heat and let cool until temperature reads about 110-115°F on instant read thermometer. If it's too hot, it will kill the yeast.
In bowl or stand mixer, put 2 cups of flour and yeast. Add the warm (not hot!) cheese mixture and beat with paddle attachment for about 3 minutes on medium speed. Add remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough becomes too thick for the paddle. Switch to the dough hook and continue adding SMALL amounts of flour until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. It should be tacky but not slack or sticky. Knead for about 5 minutes.
Turn out on to lightly floured surface and add Swiss cheese cubes. Knead in the cheese until incorporated and evenly distributed. They'll want to pop out. Just poke them back in.
Place dough into a large, oiled bowl turning the dough once to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let proof in warm place for about an hour. It should double in size.
Prepare 2 loaf pans by spraying entire insides with cooking spray.
Turn proofed dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Roll out to about 1/2" thickness, about 6" wide and 12"long. Cut the dough in three strips down the length but leave them together at one end. Braid the three strands, pinching the ends together and tucking them under. Place into prepared pan and repeat with the other half of dough.
Spray the tops with cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap. Place in warm, draft-free place and let rise until the tops crest the pans about 1/2", 45 minutes or so.
Preheat the oven to 350°F about 15 minutes prior to baking. Remove plastic wrap and place pans in oven on the middle rack. You might want to have a large baking sheet on a rack under the loaves. The cheese bubbled out on mine and smoked like crazy before I got a pan under them. Here's what I like to do to avoid a smoking oven and setting off the smoke alarm. Fill the sheet pan with water before putting it in the over. The water is less about steam and more about having a place for the cheese to drip and not burn. If you just put a plain sheet pan in the oven, it will keep the cheese from dripping to the oven floor, but the cheese will still burn.
Bake about 45-50 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 190°F or the bread sounds hollow when tapping on the bottom crust. If you plan on baking much bread, it's best to invest in an instant read thermometer. You can find them for less than $10 at the grocery store or a discount store. They're handy to have for many uses other than bread baking. You might have to cover the loaves with foil after about 30 minutes so the tops don't get too brown.
Remove from oven and place on cooling rack. Run a knife around the edges, especially where the cheese has oozed out so that it will release from the pan. Turn out and let cool before slicing.
This bread toasts up nicely and makes excellent sandwich bread.