I absolutely cannot resist freshly baked bread. It is miraculous how a few simple ingredients can come together to form such a marvel. When I baked my first bread with the zojirushi bread machine earlier this year, i could not believe that I took the plunge into bread-making, though most of the work was done by zoji then. Now, after months of trial and error, I am using Zoji only for the first kneading cycle, and doing everything by hand thereafter as I realised that the machine rendered my breads tougher and with a more predictable texture. For the softest bread ever, DO NOT BAKE YOUR BREAD IN THE MACHINE. It is also much better kneading and shaping the dough mostly by hand as if allows you to vary the pressure and duration for rising. I have learnt that in breadmaking, technique is extremely important.
It can seem rather gargantuan a task to bake your own bread, after all, bread is easily available everywhere now with the advent of bakeries all over our lil island. BUT. The moment Peter Reinhart’s recipe for cheeserolls materialised in my oven, I knew why I wanted to bake my own bread – Its that first moment of bliss derived from eating the soft and fluffy pillow of cheesy goodness that had me; I was taken aback by how flour and yeast can work together so perfectly especially since I watched the entire process. Say yay to carbs! (looks like even longer runs for me now..)
Soft cheese bread by Peter Reinhart (makes about 6 bread rolls)
(Adapted from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day)
Prep time: 3½ hours / Cook time: 25-30 minutes
397g bread flour
1 ½ teaspoon salt
32g brown sugar
½ cup of lukewarm water
½ cup lukewarm milk
1 sachet of instant yeast (7g)
28g unsalted butter
180g grated cheese (i used cheddar and mozzarella)
- In a big mixer bowl (or bread machine if you have one), whisk the flour, salt and sugar together.
- warm the milk (do not boil the milk. I used my nespresso frother to warm the milk and stopped it midway). Throw in the butter to let it melt.
- In a cup, dissolve the yeast in lukewarm water
- Pour all the liquids (milk with butter and water with yeast) into the flour mixture and stir with a spatula for 2 minutes. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
- Knead the dough on a floured surface by hand for an additional 3 minutes. (if you are using a bread maker, set it on dough cycle and stop the cycle after 3 minutes of kneading)
- Make adjustments to your dough if it is too dry or too sticky, by either adding some water or throwing in more flour. The dough should be soft and supple. (not sticky)
- Form the dough into a ball by tucking the sides under the dough for a few rounds.
- Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl with a kitchen cloth. Let it rest at room temperature for 90 minutes, until it doubles in size.
- After the first proofing is done, transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and divide it into 6 equal pieces
- With a rolling pin or any cylindrical bottle, roll each piece of dough roughly into rectangles.
- Sprinkle the grated cheese on the surface of the dough and roll it up the longer side to form a log. Curl the log to form a spiral bun. (like a snail and tuck the other end underneath the bun.
- Repeat it for all 6 buns and place them all into a lightly greased oven-proof bowl or cake pan
- Cover loosely with the cloth and let the dough rise again at room temperature for about 90 minutes
- 15 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 180oC. Sprinkle the rolls with some italian herbs or more cheese on top if you like and bake for 25-30 minutes.
- Remove from oven and brush some butter on top. Cover it with a cloth for 5 minutes and you’ll have a soft and golden top!
* I also included some slices of ham in my version, I guess you can put pretty much anything you fancy into the rolls! Think I might try cream cheese and cranberries the next time..