I was off on Wednesday this week, since I had to work today. I was up early to get everyone out the door and also because I had an appointment scheduled for 9:00am in downtown Austin. I had a bit of time before I had to head out, so I read some blogs and chatted with friends on Twitter. I was trying not to think about the fact that I was kind of hungry--my appointment was for a health screening, which meant fasting for blood work. Let's just say that reading food blogs probably wasn't helping. =)
One of my favorite blogs to read is the one from the bakers at King Arthur Flour. There's lots of yummy stuff on there, and it's so nice to have step-by-step instructions with photos to accompany so many of their great recipes. It's not unusual for me to read one of their posts and want to drop everything and head for the kitchen. That was definitely the case when I saw the post for Italian Easter Cheese Bread. My friend Kayte was on Twitter at the time; she's been in a bread-baking mood and was quite happy to jump in and make it with me. Margaret decided to joined us as well. I went to my appointment, ran a couple errands, and was home before noon so I could get started. Kayte had to start a little earlier, and Margaret got a bit ahead of me as well, but we still got to compare notes as we went along.
One of my errands was a stop at Crate & Barrel. I only went in for the chopsticks...
The dough for the cheese bread is basically a lean brioche--it calls for several eggs plus a yolk and half a stick of butter. It doesn't have any sugar, though; instead it calls for freshly ground pepper (I used black since I don't care for white) to reinforce the savory nature of the bread. Since the dough is pretty soft, I used my mixer for all the kneading. Once the dough starts to come together, you mix in a bunch of grated cheese. I went with Parmigiano Reggiano, but you could also use Romano or Asiago. I love the fact that KAF gives options for volume as well as weight (in either ounces or grams) for their recipes. But I realized I was in trouble when I discovered that the 1 1/4 cups of grated cheese translated to 170 grams (6 ounces)! I didn't have that much cheese, so I ended up just going with the 95 grams that I had and hoped that it would still work out.
I frequently make breads that are baked on my baking stone as freestanding loaves. To be honest, I don't really like traditional "sandwich bread" for sandwiches, though it is nice for toast. The cheese bread called for a pan, though, and gave a couple of options. It can be baked as a round, in a brioche or pandoro pan, or you can make a pretty loaf by braiding the dough and then putting it in a loaf pan. I actually don't use my 9"x5" pan very often, so this was a good chance to get it out of the cupboard. In the pan, my loaf took 30 minutes to bake, at which point the internal temperature was about 195ºF.
The verdict? Even without the full amount of cheese, this is some really tasty bread. I especially like it toasted with butter. I haven't had a chance to try yet, but I was thinking that it would make really good croutons. I used it for B's lunch one day and she said she liked it. I definitely plan to make this bread again, maybe with a different cheese next time.
You can find the recipe here on the King Arthur website. Kayte and Margaret have posted their loaves as well. I'm so glad that we were able to bake together this week! I'm also sending this over to YeastSpotting, where you check out lots of other great breads.