Let us be the first ones (OK the ONLY ones) to say welcome to A Little Bit Peckish! We've been tossing around the idea of writing about our favorite things (eating, cooking, baking, traveling for more eating) for quite a while now. Those of you who know us are hopefully thinking, "What took you so long?" Those of you who don't know us should check out the "About Us" portion of the site to understand us a bit better.
From the moment we met, we have (largely unintentionally...at least at first) centered our lives around food. We are the epitome of living to eat. One of the dominant things that stands out about our relationship is how prominently food figures into our descriptive memory. It comes up as naturally in our conversations as fond memories of childhood might for someone else. That's because food is one of the things we are fondest of, especially when we're sharing it with those that we love.
As we thought about our inaugural post, it was obvious that we had to jump in with something that was a formative experience in our life together. Enter cheese bread!
If you like cheese and you like bread (and, really, who doesn’t?), this post is for you! If you have ever experienced the awesomeness that is the Wegman’s supermarket chain, then you can feel our pain when I tell you that the nearest one is over two hours away. Which may be just as well - for our waistlines- because their cheese bread was a contributing factor to unspecified weight gain during our first year of dating. Having a car in college meant, at the very least, weekly trips to this haven of culinaria. Seriously, their sandwiches alone are worth any trip! We often found ourselves late night perusing the baked goods section on a cheese bread run because sometimes regular bread just isn't enough. That's right - late night supermarket trips crushing on the carbs. It's how we roll!
How then, when Amy stumbled across this recipe, could we resist diving right in. The heart wants what the heart wants, after all.
Adapted from Seasons & Suppers
This cheese bread recipe resembles monkey bread in that you assemble it by dropping pieces into a loaf pan. You will end up with two loaves, so keep that in mind when dividing up the listed filling and topping ingredients.
While this is not an entry-level recipe when it comes to skill in the kitchen, it's certainly not the most daunting thing we've ever made (stay tuned for a post in the future about timpano). Once you get over the fear of rolling out dough (really not difficult) the rest is a cinch. Start the dough when you have some time, though, because there are two different opportunites for rising, both set at about an hour.
Meanwhile, practice makes perfect, so don't let this beautiful, melty, cheese-filled beast scare you away!
- 1 1/2 cups warm water (about 90° F.)
- 2 Tbsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 tsp. dry mustard powder
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
- 5 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups shredded cheese (We used a combo of Irish cheddar, American cheddar and colby jack. The combinations are endless.)
- 2 cups cubed cheese (about 1/2 inch chunks), Again - your choice of cheese.
- 2 Tbsp. melted butter
- Grease two loaf pans with a generous amount of butter or cooking spray and set aside. Really whatever medium-sized loaf pan you have will work. We used two Calphalon 5x10 loaf pans, but 4x8 or 5x9 would also work.
- Fill a measuring cup with the warm water. The temperature should be around 90 degrees. Pour it into a large bowl, and then add the yeast. We used the bowl of our stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, but you can use whatever bowl it is that you mix dough in. Stir the yeats and water gently, and let the contents sit for 2-3 minutes. You may see some foam. This is normal and shows that the yeast is activated.
- Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl (sugar, salt, dry mustard, and 3 cups of the flour). Once the dry ingredients are well-ncorporated add them to the water/yeast mixture. Then add the eggs, oil, and butter while mixing. Pay special attention to the butter to ensure that it gets incorporated.
- Slowly add the remaining flour, while mixing, up to the total 5 and 1/4 cups. You will know that the dough is done mixing when it gathers around the dough hook and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. It should be smooth and shiny. Once you reach this point, transfer the dough to a separate, oiled bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. The dough should be stored in a warm spot to rise for approximately 60 minutes, or when doubled in size. The humidity and temperature of the day will change the rising time. This is a good time to shred your cheese.
- Once the dough is risen, transfer it to a well-floured surfaced because it will stick. Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to divide the dough into two equal pieces. Set one piece aside.
- Use a floured rolling pin to spread one piece of the dough into a rectangle as if you were rolling out a pizza. The ideal size is a 10x16 inch rectangle. Once the dough is rolled out, spread one cup of the shredded cheese over top of the dough, pizza style. After the cheese is spread, start rolling up the dough from the long side, as if you're making a stretched, cheesy burrito.
- Using a sharp knife cut down the middle of each roll from end-to-end. Then cut the two long pieces into smaller 1-inch. Drop about half the dough pieces onto the bottom of one of the prepared loaf pans, and ensure that the bottom is covered. Top with a 1/4 of the cheese cubes and follow with a second layer of dough and cheese. Repeat this exact process with the second piece of dough, filling up the empty loaf pan. You may see some spaces between the dough pieces. Not to worry - The dough will rise and come together in one big cheesy, carby loaf.
- The final step before baking is to drizzle both loaves with the melted butter. Once sufficiently drizzled, cover both loaves with plastic wrap to rise for 45 minutes or so. Now is a good time to pre-heat your oven to 350° F. The dough will be puffed up toward the top of the pan when ready to bake.
- Once the loaves have had some time to rise in the pans, insert both of them into the oven together. Baking time is about 35-40 minutes. About 30 minutes into baking, if the top is too brown, make a foil tent over the top of the pan to halt browning, and continue baking.
- The loaves should cool in the pans for 20 minutes or so. After that, run something flat around the outside of the loaf (we used an off-set spatula), and pop them out for further cooling on a rack.
Note: As tempted as you may be to tear the loaf apart as soon as it comes out of the oven, exert some self-control because you would be missing out on how great this bread tastes toasted. Slap some butter on there for an extra heart-stopping treat! Also, feel free to pop the second loaf into the freezer, as the enriched dough freezes well.
There’s not a whole lot more to say other than thanks for stopping by our newly discovered corner of the Internet. We have big plans for this little site, and that means we hope you'll come back again soon. Of course if you have questions or comments about the recipe, please let us know. You can visit us on social media (links below this post - look for the icons), or you can visit the contact portion of our website.
- Amy and Tim