I’ve been too busy this week doing a whole lot of nothing. What I mean by that is I’ve been avoiding work instead of doing things I need to be doing. Tonight I solemnly swear to knock it off. It’s just so easy to shirk responsibilities in favor of going out or watching TV. You guys know that TV has gotten really good, right? It’s almost impossible to not watch it. Especially when you have a partner in crime, i.e. a husband. Because he, too, always has a ton going on between work and school, we have a hard time doing much once we are both home and on the couch. I need to kick this winter thing. I’m in hibernation mode. How do you make yourself be more productive? What are your tricks? Do you reward yourself? I feel like I’ve been rewarding myself for doing nothing. Maybe if I write it down here, it’ll force me to stop doing that. Let’s test out that theory.
Anywho, here we are. I’m really excited about this bread. I made it on a day that I wasn’t feeling particularly awesome and was in one of those weird moods where you can’t just sit on the couch, which as previously stated is my favorite thing in the world. I managed to make myself stand up, though, and get into the kitchen. The nice thing about bread, once you get past being afraid of yeast and the rising process, is that you get to take a couple of breaks while you make it. Mix the dough together, let it rise. Shape the dough, let it rise. Bake the bread, let it cool. For that reason, bread is not the best thing to make when you’re in a hurry, but it’s perfect for relaxing and taking it easy. Kneading is almost meditative. If that sounds crazy, make a loaf of bread next time you feel like crap and let me know how you feel when you’re done. I’ll tell you how it makes me feel: it makes me feel like I’ve done something. The term “from scratch” comes to mind. I usually hate when people say that, but I think it applies to bread because you really do start out with almost nothing and end up with the most basic, life sustaining food there is.
So, yeah. Maybe methodically mixing and kneading is the new feel good medicine of 2014. Try it and see what you think. Either way, this bread is like a club recommendation from Stefan because it has everything: cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, Gruyere cheese, butter, scallions, garlic and red pepper flakes. Life sustaining, indeed. I originally saw the recipe on Seasons and Suppers, which is a beautiful blog that I absolutely love. When I realized I had everything I needed to make this bread, thanks to some leftover cheese from a party, I immediately stood up to get baking. Rolling all of the goodness up into the dough, then slicing it in half and twisting it up is pure genius, and I am going to try using this method for other things soon. I gave one of these loaves away and brought the other into work – I think everyone really enjoyed it. How can you not? While it’s especially good warm, it’s still delicious if you’re standing up in your kitchen, ripping off hunks and stuffing them greedily into your mouth. But that’s just what I think.
Step one: bring your dough together, then let it rise.
Once it’s risen, divide the dough in half. Roll out each half into large rectangles, then add the filling and roll it up tightly.
Once rolled, cut each piece down the middle, then twist around carefully and pinch the ends together.
Cover and allow to rise one more time. I did my loaves two different ways: one in loaf pan, as seen above.
And one in my cast iron in a woven circle.
When the loaves have risen a final time, bake until browned and bubbling.
- Twisted Cheese & Scallion Bread
- Author: The Crepes of Wrath
- Prep time: 3 hours
- Cook time: 50 mins
- Total time: 3 hours 50 mins
- Serves: 2 loaves
- Soft homemade bread bursting with gooey cheese, scallions and red pepper flakes.
- For the Bread:
- 794 grams (6½ cups) unbleached bread flour (all-purpose works, too – I used bread flour)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 cup lukewarm water, about 95° F
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons lukewarm 2% milk, about 95° F
- 1½ tablespoons active dry yeast
- ¼ cup melted unsalted butter or oil, cooled slightly
- For the Filling:
- 6 tablespoons unsalted melted butter, divided
- 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided (I used a combination of cheddar, Parmesan and Gruyere cheese)
- 6 scallions, thinly sliced and divided
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder, divided
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, divided
- In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, salt and sugar.
- In a large measuring cup or bowl, combine the water and milk and whisk in the yeast until dissolved. Add this mixture, along with the melted butter, to the dry ingredients. Mix by hand or with a dough hook, until the mixture is combined, about 2 minutes. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then continue mixing the dough, adding more flour or water, as needed, until the dough becomes soft, smooth and tacky, but not sticky. I ended adding a pinch of water, then a pinch of flour – don’t go nuts but go ahead and adjust a bit to get the dough to the right consistency.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for a couple of minutes, folding the dough up and then back onto itself until the dough is soft and smooth. Form the dough into a ball, then place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and either refrigerate for up to 4 days, or allow to sit at room temperature until doubled in size (about 60-90 minutes). *Note: If you have refrigerated your dough, remove it from the refrigerator 2 hours before you plan to bake, so it comes to room temperature.
- Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. Dust each with a bit of flour and then, using a rolling pin, roll into a rectangle approximately 10 inches wide and 16 inches long. Spread 3 tablespoons melted butter over the surface of each piece of rolled out dough, then sprinkle with half of the cheese, half of the scallions, half of the red pepper flakes and half of the garlic powder. Press lightly with the palm of your hand to press the toppings into the butter. Starting with the shortest side, roll the dough up jelly-roll style and pinch the seams together.
- Grease and/or line two 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pans and set aside. If you only have 1 loaf pan, you can do what I did and just use a cast iron pan or something similar to hold the dough. I greased both of my pans liberally with butter.
- To shape the dough, use a sharp knife to cut the roll of dough down the center lengthwise, completely in half. Be careful not to let the filling spill out and place each half by the side of the other. Pinch together the farthest ends of the dough. Keeping the cuts sides facing upwards as much as possible, place the right-side piece over the left-side piece, so that you are twisting the dough – place one piece on top of the other, then take the bottom piece and pull it up and around to the top (see the photos above for an example). Straighten up the dough and then repeat, pinching together the end closest to you. If any cheese escapes, just place it back on top.
- Using a bench scraper or spatula (or steady hands), carefully lift the dough into the greased loaf pan. Repeat with the other dough log (I braided my second loaf), then cover both with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Bake for 50 minutes or so, rotating the pans halfway through baking time. If the bread starts to brown too fast, you can move it to a lower rack in the oven, as well as cover with a piece of aluminum foil to allow the bread to keep baking without burning. Allow the bread to cool slightly before running a knife around the edges of the bread and removing it from the pans. Slice (or tear) and serve. This bread will keep well in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to 5 days.