Pennsylvania Cheddar Bread

7 Nov

I love – I mean LOVE all things carbohydrate. I will tear up some pasta. I will gorge myself on a bread basket with butter, dipping oil, or just bread by itself. If there were meetings for people addicted to carbs, and I was a quitter, I would need the 12 step program to get off the carbs. But i’m not a quitter so even if there was a program for folks like me, I’d not be in line to sign up.

Seeing as how I love bread, it made sense for me to purchase “artisan bread in 5 minutes a day” – the title had me. Bread, in 5 minutes a day? No knead/rest/knead/rest/bake??? No complicated ‘sponge’ to make a nice, bakery shop worthy loaf of bread? Sign me up!

This particular recipe will yield four 1lb loaves of bread. You can either let this dough sit in the fridge in a large container (not airtight) and pull out a chunk when you want to bake it, or do as I did and bake all at once – I’m glad I made all 4 loaves at once since we consumed 1 1/2 loaves ourselves the day I baked them! They do freeze great as well, just double wrap in plastic wrap once they are completely cooled. Use or freeze all of the bread within 7 days. I have no idea why it’s called “Vermont Cheddar Bread” unless they use actual cheese from Vermont, or they are baking it in Vermont. I made mine in Pennsylvania so that’s what it’s called! And if you get a chance, purchase this book. It’s full of great advice and tips, and you will look like a baking pro!

Pennsylvania Cheddar Bread  – Adapted from “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.”

3 cups lukewarm (not hot) water 
1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
6 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
Cornmeal (for dusting)
Flour (for sprinkling)
1 cup hot water (for the oven)

1. In a large bowl or food container, mix the water, yeast, salt, and sugar together. Stir in the flour and grated cheese until just combined; you may have to use your hands to incorporate the last bit of flour. Alternately, use a food processor with a dough attachment or a standing mixer with a dough hook to combine ingredients. Do not knead the dough. 2. Cover the container loosely with a towel or plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at room temperature (65 to 75 degrees) for 2 hours or until the dough rises and collapses.

3. The dough is now ready for baking, but it’s easier to handle after refrigeration. Refrigerate in a loosely covered container for up to 7 days.

4. When ready to bake, have ready a pizza peel or baking sheet dusted liberally with cornmeal. Sprinkle the dough generously with flour and cut off a 1 pound piece (about the size of a grapefruit) for each loaf. Sprinkle the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom as you rotate the ball in your hands. Place the ball of dough on the pizza peel or baking sheet. Let rise at room temperature for 1 hour (40 minutes if you’re using fresh, unrefrigerated dough).

5. Set the oven at 450 degrees. Place a baking stone or baking sheet on the lowest rack and an empty broiler tray on any other shelf that won’t interfere with the rising bread.

6. Sprinkle the loaf generously with flour. Using a serrated bread knife, quickly slash a cross or tic-tac-toe pattern across the top of the bread.

7. Slide the loaf of bread off the peel or baking sheet onto the hot pizza stone or baking sheet. Pour 1 cup hot water into the hot broiler tray. Quickly close the oven door.

8. Bake the bread for 25 minutes, or until it looks deeply golden and firm. Smaller or larger loaves will require more or less baking time. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.

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