asiago cheese bread

Well, I was supposed to be baking some wonderful fall cookies today, but then I realized it had been ten days since I had last posted on here. That’s almost neglect! Anyway, I scrapped my plans so I could post on here (that, and I didn’t have the stick of butter that I needed for those cookies).

I don’t normally make yeast breads. It takes so long to let the dough rise then punch it down then rise again and… well, you know the drill. But, seriously, the yeasty flavor you get from all that work? Totally worth it. Not to mention your house will smell awesome.

On a tangent, I love cheese. I also am fervently in love with carbohydrates. Therefore, I am in love with cheesy carbohydrates (that might be a logical fallacy, but I definitely couldn’t tell you for sure)… ergo, I am in love with Asiago cheese bread. And, you probably will be too (especially if you’re the cheesy carbohydrate-loving type).

Asiago Cheese Bread

Makes 1 large loaf

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 package active-dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cup diced Asiago cheese (about 8 ounces)
  cooking spray

In a large bowl, whisk together 1.5 c. flour, sugar, and yeast. Add 1 ¼ cup warmed water (about 110-120 degrees Fahrenheit) and beat for about 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place for 1 hour, until bubbly.

Stir in oil, thyme, and salt with a wooden spoon. Stir in remaining flour ½ c. at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and is easy to handle. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes.

Sprinkle flour on work surface. Knead dough for about 10 minutes, until it is smooth and springy (sprinkle more flour if the dough starts to stick). Knead in 1 c. of cheese. In a large bowl sprayed with cooking spray, add dough. Turn around a couple times so that it is coated with the spray. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place for 45-60 minutes, until doubled in size.

Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Sprinkle flour on work surface. Punch dough down. Shape into a football-shape, about 12 inches long. Place the smooth side up on the cookie sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit 45-60 minutes, until almost doubled in size.

Position oven racks in the middle and bottom positions. On the bottom rack, place an 8” square pan. Fill with warm water until water is about half an inch from the top of the pan. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Spray loaf lightly with water using a spray bottle. Sprinkle with a little flour. Cut a half-inch deep slash down the center of the loaf using a serrated knife (go about the length of the loaf, leaving half an inch on either side). Sprinkle the remaining cheese in the slash.

Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and bake an additional 20-25 minutes, until loaf is browned and has a hollow sound when tapped. Remove to a cooling rack. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Source: Betty Crocker

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