June 17, 2011

Asiago Cheese Bread


I'm so happy that bread exists. Cupcakes. I'm also glad you exist. And chocolate. What would my life be without chocolate.

Let me tell you a little story about bread and yeast. It's a good one. Promise.

Two months ago I tried to grow (colonize?) some yeast, and had pretty good success. I really wanted to be hardcore and make my own sourdough bread.

Basically, yeast naturally occurs in whole wheat flour and in the air. If you combine warm water + whole wheat flour, and cover, hopefully you will catch some yeast. The yeast will then eat the flour and produce gas and bi-products. There are also bacteria. Good bacteria. The bacteria will eat the yeast's bi-products and produce acid.

The yeast makes the bread rise and the bacteria makes the bread sour. Together the yeast and the bacteria live together harmoniously.

So you leave the bread and water in a bowl on the counter and let it work its magic. This can take days. I know what you're thinking - ew, gross! What about mold, and fungus, and stomach cramps? Well, it's super hard for the 'unruly' bacteria to grow in this environment, because it's just so darn acidic.

Phew, that was a lot. Are you still with me?



So, two months ago I grew a sourdough starter. It was awesome. I was proud. The kind of proud a mother has when she shows you her new born baby. And then I say that her baby is cute, and I don't really mean it. Come one, not all babies are cute. Don't judge.

I took my starter and I made some sourdough bread. Go here to see my bread. If you want. No pressure.

It was a success. It was tasty. I was happy.

I put my starter in the fridge and now it's dead. Blunt and tragic.

Don't worry, there's a happy ending. It has cheese and cheese makes everything better. And chocolate. And cupcakes. And Gin.

Yesterday I tried to make a loaf using my dead yeast. It failed. I know, I know, move on.

I decided to add some commercial yeast to my starter. It was like a super yeast explosion party. My starter doubled in 5 hours. Magic.

I decided to persevere with the store bought bakers yeast concoction, and I added more flour, and water, and salt, and cheese. I let the whole thing party on its own, and I ended up with a savory, cheesy, delicious sweet loaf of bread.

It was awesome. The stars aligned, and pow! Cheese bread.


ASIAGO CHEESE BREAD RECIPE (makes 1 loaf)
{recipe adapted from The New York Times adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery}

Ingredients
3 1/2 cups of all purpose flour + more for dusting
1/4 tsp of dry yeast
1 tbsp salt
1 1/4 cups of water
1 cup of shredded asiago cheese

Directions

1. Combine 1/2 cup of all purpose flour, 1/4 cup of warm water, and 1/4 tsp of dry yeast in a small bowl or jar, cover with a damp towel and let rise for 12 hours or until doubled in size.

2. Once the mixture has doubled, mix with the rest of the flour (3 cups), 1 cup of water, and salt and combine with a wooden spoon. Pour the dough onto the counter and knead into a ball. Place the dough back into the bowl and let rise for 1 hour.

3. Punch down the dough and knead in the cheese. Continue to knead for 10 minutes on a floured surface. Place the dough into an oval baking baking dish. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise for 4 more hours.

4. Preheat the oven to 500 F. Add a pan 1/3 full of warm water to on the top shelf. Turn the oven down to 425 F and let heat for 10 minutes.

5. Place the baking dish on the bottom shelf. Spray the top of the dough with water and the wall of the oven. Bake for 40 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.


8 comments:

  1. Your photos are lovely. I especially like the Forget me Nots. You capture the light so nicely, and the bread sounds amazing.

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  2. Your photos are great, an I just adore cheese bread! By the way, love your new blog design :)

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  3. thanks so much. Glad you noticed :)

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  4. Asiago cheese bread is my favorite next to Garlic bread. This sounds like a wonderful adventure in baking!

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  5. Thanks Paula. I love cheese, and I love bread!

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  6. 1/4 tsp of yeast seems like an inadequate amount for the amount of bread. Are you sure this is right? Could it be 1/4 oz instead?

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  7. Yes it is 1/4 tsp of yeast. Normally, this would be a small amount, but I am making my own starter and letting it grow overnight. Thanks for the comment.

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