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Monday, May 18, 2009

A Tripped-Out Italian Cheese Bread (on a melancholy morning)

Good day, kittens...

Writing you a quick p.s. before I hobble to my day job. Woke up rather melancholy. Not sure if it's because I'm going to work for the first time in a week (with a terribly sore leg, on a cane, no less) or what...

Yet here I wrote endlessly yesterday about what we have to be grateful for. I have to remind myself of this. Not so easy on a Monday.

Ah, yes. The Bryan clan - we are a moody bunch! Onward into life...

Last night I tried an Italian Cheese Bread which came out pretty great. Very hearty, thick, with substantial taste. I made the All-day Bolognese Sauce I posted yesterday. I had a small amount of pasta with mine, but Andy had only a slice of this bread with his. He loves bread with Bolognese and feels pasta is overkill.

I also served this with Roasted Garlic Broccoli - trimmed 4 heads of garlic, florets only, (sorry, Jacques Pepin, I didn't trim the damn stems), tossed with a bit of Pam Organic Olive Oil spray, salt, pepper and five smashed garlic cloves. Roasted in a 425 degree oven for 22 minutes.

This is a fast yeast bread. It takes two risings and can easily be done in the afternoon on the weekend. It was a chilly day yesterday, so it was only when I turned on the oven to pre-heat for the baking of the bread it finally rose properly.

Bread is as up and down as my emotions! No wonder I love/hate it...


  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup relatively cold water
  • 1 cup 1% milk (whole milk makes it too rich)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour (again, try to use King Arthur)
  • 1 cup grated Italian Cheese blend (from a bag works just fine)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter (barely lukewarm)
If it's a brisk day outside, turn on your oven to 350 degrees. Bread loves to rise around a warm oven, so if it's chilly, heat the oven and let this bread rise nearby (but never on top, darlings).

You will need a loaf pan. I have an 9 1/2 by 5 1/2 commercial loaf pan I love I use often. You can use an 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 if you want - doesn't matter.

The great thing about this loaf is you simply mix all of the above ingredients above, let it rise twice and bake it. And it's done!


What to do:

Mix all of the ingredients above in a large bowl you can really get your hands into. You want this beginning dough to hold together, but not be sticky. It should be a tad dry. If you think it's too sticky, add a tablespoon of flour (or cold water, if too dry). Again, bread has it's own rules, so see how if feels and you feel.

God, if I made bread now it would be flat, I'll tell you that much! Ha...ah, I find life exhausting.

Okay! Onward!

Once the dough is together, cover with a clean dishcloth and let it rise for one hour. It won't get double in size, but you want it to look a tad puffy. Yesterday it was cool outside, so it nearly took 1 1/2 hours for mine to rise.

Get out a large cutting board. Grease it up (I know, how gross, right?) lightly with butter. Take out your dough and roll it into a nice, thick 8 inch (no comments, please) rope and place into your loaf pan - make sure you also lightly butter the loaf pan. Very important.

Cover the dough inside of the loaf pan and cover with the clean dishcloth. Put it near the warmed up oven. After an hour or so, the dough should rise just above the lip of the loaf pan. When it does, you know you are ready to bake.

Put it into the oven for 30 minutes. After 20 minutes or so, take a gander and see if it's browning too quickly. If it is, cover with a little layer of foil.

Take it out after no more than 35 minutes, turn upside, take it out and let it cool on the counter (or wire rack, whatever is nearby).

You have to let this sit before you cut into it. Wait at least 20 minutes.

Then cut away! We had some strawberry jam from Berlin we put on the warm bread - sublime. We also tried orange marmalade, which was also very fun.

Serve this with any kind of Italian meat sauce, this could also be used to make fantastic Italian Panini's (hm, reminds me...I'll post my Panini recipe tomorrow). It's also just friggin' wonderful cut up when it's stale, roasted, and makes fantastic croutons.

Enjoy this delightful bread. Since I feel rather down today, and we all know the benefits of eating a bit of bread when down, I think I'll heat up a slice now before I go to work. Put on a bit of jam and drink my coffee in silence and realize the day ahead is something to look forward to, not to wearily trod towards.

Have a day full of love, beauty and glamour, kittens.

Je t'aime, kittens!


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