My baking project for this weekend was no-knead cheese bread from Jim Lahey’s My Bread cookbook. This is basically the no-knead bread recipe with chunks of any firm or semi-firm cheese mixed into the dough. I used asiago cheese.
The no-knead process takes a long time, but most of that time is allowing the dough to rise on the kitchen counter. Not a lot of work is required, which is just the way I like it. For the second rise, you must wrap the dough in a dish towel generously dusted with flour, cornmeal or bran. I learned this time that it is not a bright idea to use a terrycloth towel. The sticky dough really adheres to all those little threads, and it’s hard to flip it into the preheated dutch oven for baking. It seems obvious now, but not when I pulled the towel out of the pile in the closet. Anyway, it is a good practice to note and learn from one’s mistakes.
Regardless, once the bread got into the oven and started baking, something primal started happening in my kitchen. The odor of the baking bread and melting cheese — words can’t do it justice, but within minutes I was salivating and ready to tear that loaf apart with my bare hands and bury my face in it. I did manage to restrain myself long enough to let the loaf finish baking and cool down, but it was hard, I tell you. What was also hard was getting the loaf out of super-hot dutch oven and onto the wire rack to cool, as the melted cheese had leaked out and acted as an adhesive, but with the help of a spatula and knife, I managed the feat.
Once the bread cooled enough to touch, I cut off a couple of pieces and dug in. This bread is officially one of my favorite breads. It combines the two things I love most in the world. It’s like a grilled cheese sandwich baked into a loaf of bread. Fan-freaking-tastic. Make this as soon as you are able.
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