Since I had already tried making asiago bagels I decided to do something different this time, and bake a loaf of asiago cheese bread. I chose to add garlic to mine because that’s always a winning combination. The recipe calls for optional rosemary, which I think would be a great choice too. It should be noted that this recipe takes SO long for the dough to be ready to bake ~3 to 3.5 hours, with steps in between wait times. But let me just tell you that it was so worth it. This bread is light, cheesy and flavorful. It would’ve been crispier if I could’ve baked it a little longer but you may know by now that I get very paranoid about burning my baked goods.
3-3.5 cups of bread flour
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 package dry active yeast
1.25 cups water
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons of rosemary or thyme (optional) and/or 2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1.25 cups asiago cheese or other firm cheese, cubed (swiss, gruyere, etc.)
Cooking spray (like Pam)
1. In a large bowl, combine 1.5 cups flour, the sugar and yeast and mix. Add the 1.25 cups of warm water (about 120 degrees Fahrenheit) and stir until all combined into a ball. Let stand about 1 hour, until bubbly.
2. Stir in the oil, rosemary (or other herb/garlic) and salt with a wooden spoon. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough is soft, easily leaves sides of bowl, and is easily handled. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit 15 minutes.
3. Sprinkle flour on flat surface (counter or cutting board) and place dough. Knead the dough, pulling toward you, pressing away with your palm and rotating 1/4 each time between pressing. Sprinkle more flour if the dough sticks. Knead in 1 cup of the cheese. Spray a bowl with the cooking spray and place the dough inside, turning to coat. Cover and let rise 45-60 minutes, until about doubled in size.
4. Deflate your dough with your fist. Spray a cookie sheet with the cooking spray. Gently form your dough into a football shape, about 12 inches long. Coat loaf with flour. Let rise in a warm place, covered, another 45-60 minutes until about doubled in size.
5. Place an 8×8 or 9×9 square baking pan halfway filled with water on the bottom rack of your oven. Heat to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. Sprinkle or spray your loaf with water and sprinkle desired amount of flour. Cut a line in the middle of your bread lengthwise about 1/2 inch deep and fill with remaining cheese.
7. Place in oven on middle rack, above the water-filled pan’s rack. Bake about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and bake another 20-25 minutes, until browned and cheesy. At your own risk, bake a bit longer to get it really crusty. I was unable to do so, but this bread is still delicious and will get harder if left on the counter.
8. Enjoy! Experiment with your own combination of spices, cheese, garlic, onions, whatever! I think this is a versatile recipe that you can easily customize. 🙂
Post & photos by: Melissa