This bread smells terrific as it bakes. The cheese flavor is subtle. For best texture, avoid the temptation of cutting into it before it has cooled completely. It's great for making cheese toast, croutons and when, it's a few days stale, stratas.
The starter used here is a 50-50 mix (by weight) of bread flour and water, plus a pinch of active dry yeast. It is described in an accompanying article. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/27/AR2010072702947.html?sid=ST2010072702964.
The cheddar powder called for in this recipe is not the stuff in blue boxes of dried macaroni and cheese. It is available at Spice and Tea Exchange of Alexandria (571-312-8505) and through several online purveyors. Dried powdered gluten is available at organic markets.
Servings: 2 loaves
- 32 ounces (6 to 7 cups) bread flour, plus more for the work surface
- 2 ounces (scant 1/2 cup) cheddar powder (see headnote)
- 1 ounce (scant 3 tablespoons) dried onion flakes
- 1 ounce (about 2 1/2 tablespoons) gluten (see headnote)
- .30 ounce (about 1 1/2 teaspoons) salt (2 teaspoons)
- .10 ounce (about 1/3 cup) dried chives
- 2 ounces (scant 1 cup) grated cheddar cheese, plus more for finishing the loaves
- 14 ounces starter (50-50 water and flour by weight; see related sidebar)
- 19 ounces water
- Egg wash (1 medium egg yolk blended with 1/2 eggshell of water)
Combine the flour, cheddar powder, dried onion, gluten, salt, dried chives and cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer; toss to incorporate and coat the cheese.
Stir the starter into the water, then add the flour mixture. Stir, then knead using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook on medium speed for 10 minutes to form a smooth elastic dough. (This dough will start off as slack, but will tighten up as it rises and the dried onions absorb water.)
Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a cool room for at least 6 hours and up to overnight. When the dough has doubled, knock it down and divide it in half.
Lightly flour a work surface. Transfer the dough to the surface and knead each half into a ball. Cover with a clean dish towel and let the dough rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
Add flour to the work surface as needed. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Knead each half into an oval using the heel of your hand, then knead down the middle of the oval and fold over to create a loaf. Turn in a clockwise fashion and repeat several times. Form 2 oblong loaves. Set the loaves on the parchment-paper-covered baking sheet and cover with a damp cloth to rise for about 45 minutes, until almost doubled.
To bake: Place a cast-iron skillet or small, shallow baking pan on an oven rack positioned on the next level below the middle rack. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
When the loaves are ready for baking, brush them all over with the egg wash. Use a sharp knife to slash shallow vents on the tops of the loaves, then sprinkle a little grated cheese over them.
Place the loaves in the oven and toss about 1/2 cup of water into the hot skillet or pan below the bread. Close the oven immediately. Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown (the internal temperature should be at least 190 degrees).
Transfer to wire racks to cool before cutting into slices or freezing.
From Silver Spring home baker Tish Hall.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.