The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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I've decided that I'm gonna start sticking these on a blog rather than the forums. Mostly because this is the first -really- successful bread I've made. Like, I'm making another two loaves of it right now, just with a bit less rising time. :P

The ingredients:

4c AP flour
1/2tsp salt
8oz medium cheddar cheese, diced
1/4c VWG
2oz grated parmesan
1/2tsp ground chipotle pepper
2c water
2 1/2tsp ADY
1tsp liquid smoke flavor
1 egg, beaten with some water to thin it out (for a wash)
1 sugar cube (to proof yeast)

Put the yeast and 1/4c of water into a measuring cup with a sugar cube to proof. While the yeast proofs, put the flour, salt, VWG, chipotle pepper, and parmesan into a bowl. Combine thoroughly, so you don't need to worry about mixing it. If possible, try and break up any chunks of parmesan - they'll make hard little nodules in your bread if you don't.

Once the yeast is proofed, add the yeast along with the other 1 3/4c of water. Also add the liquid smoke flavoring at this point. Knead the dough until developed (and I'll admit, I still haven't quite figured out what dough feels like when "properly developed," but I've had good luck so far...) and toss in your mixing bowl, and cover it to proof.

While the dough proofs, take your 8oz of cheese and cut it up into roughly 1/4-1/2" cubes. Once done, stick it in the fridge until your dough is ready. Don't rise it too much - you'll get that "beery" flavor, and not everyone enjoys the taste of straight CO2! (although I kinda like it, I admit...)

Once the dough has risen to about 1.5-2x its original size, take it out and stretch it out 'til it's about 1/2" thick. Put the cheese cubes on top of the dough, trying to spread them evenly. Now fold the dough, press it out a bit, fold it, press it out a bit, and just repeat 'til you start getting pieces of cheese breaking through or almost breaking through the outside of the dough. Since there's no egg or anything in the bread, it should be perfectly safe to nom on the cheese that falls off - consider it a bonus. ;)

Shape them as you desire (personally, I went with two batard-like loaves, but I don't see why you can't do a boule, a baguette, etc. shape with this?) and let rise again. Rise them until they're about doubled.

While they're rising, preheat your oven to 500F. Once risen (which should be helped by the heat from the preheating oven,) brush the loaves with your egg mixture, slash the tops however you want (I use three slashes down the long axis of the loaf, though I forgot this time...) and stick 'em in the oven with steam (again, personally, I use an old lasagna pan I keep in the bottom of the oven, and toss a cup of water in there. By the time the cup of water is boiled off, that's "enough steam".) For the love of <your deity of choice>, don't make this on a baking stone unless you -want- to scrape burnt cheese off the thing. If you do, at least cover it somehow.

Drop the oven temperature to 400F, and cook for 50 minutes. Enjoy the smell from the liquid smoke that you mixed into it, along with the slight crispy-burnt cheese smell coming from the bits that should have been hanging off the loaf. Feel free to eat the crispy bits - I think they're the best part of the bread!


Cooling loaves:

Crumb porn:

Very tasty bread. I alluded to this when I was writing the instructions, but the first batch of this I made was overproofed - I had a strong CO2 (i.e. "beery") flavor in the loaf. I've got another batch in the oven (since I'm actually making these for other people) that should be significantly less beery. Still though, the crumb is wonderful, the loaf itself is nice and fluffy, and the taste is awesome.

Edit: Oh yes. MUCH better. So much oven spring out of the loaves this time around. I definitely overproofed it the first time, and I think I know exactly where I went wrong.

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