Thursday, October 16, 2008


I love bread. Who doesn't? I mean, you'd have to be some kind of North Korean Robot to not like bread, which is why I serve it to all of my house guests, just to be sure. . .

That being said, despite my love for it, I've never made it. It falls into the nebulous world of baking, which for so long has been one of those "Here there be Dragons" territory. To a guy who measures ingredients by eyeball and hardly ever bothers to read a recipe, it's scary stuff. Of course, it's bread, and it's delicious. That's enough for me to get over my fear. Plus, I am too lazy to go down the road to buy bread. I've got flour and...stuff. Sounds like a plan for failure right?


I have no idea how it turned out so well, as I was fully expecting to make something half-crappy the first time. Instead, I rock out a megaloaf of bread that looks as awesome as anything I've bought in a market. Here's how I did it:

Gather these ingredients together:
  • 6 cups all purpose white flour
  • 1 1/2 slightly warm water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 packs of active yeast
  • 1/4 cup rosemary (fresh if you can)
  • 2 1/2 cups Swiss Grüyere cheese, grated finely
And this stuff for the glaze:
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
Combine the water, yeast, and sugar in a bowl and let the yeast go hog wild for about ten minutes. While that's happening, melt the butter down and combine with milk and salt, so that its at room temperature. When the yeast is all foamy and smelling like beery bread, mix with the milk & butter. Add flour a cup at a time, stirring thoroughly in between. By this time you should have a good and firm cantaloupe-sized ball of dough. Find a flat surface to knead on, sprinkle some flour on the surface, and begin to knead. Work the dough for a good fifteen minutes or so, working two cups of the grüyere and the fresh rosemary inside as you knead. Grease up a bowl, drop in the ball of dough, and spread it around until fully greased, and sit the bowl in a warm place with a damp cloth over the top. Let it rest this way for an hour, and expand to a ridiculous size.

When you come back, plop the dough back on the table and punch it down, kneading it down again. From here, you can form the bread however you please, whether it's baguettes, boulles, rolls, etc. I went for braided bread, dividing the bread into three equal pieces, and rolling them out into equal lengths. On a non-stick cookie sheet, I pinched one end together, and braided them up, pinching the other end together and tucking both ends under the rest of the dough. From there, I let the dough rest for another hour in a warm place, covered up in the damp cloth.

After the hour's up, the dough will have puffed up again. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees, then mix the egg, teaspoon of salt, and tablespoon of water, and glaze lightly along the dough's surface. Don't use too much, or you'll just get scrambled egg on your bread. You just want enough to wet it all over. After this, sprinkle the dried rosemary on top, and pop that bad boy in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the crust gets a nice light brown to it. Pull it out quickly and sprinkle the remaining half cup of grüyere on top. Pop it back in the oven between 5 to 10 minutes to let the cheese brown, and then bring it out again. Let it cool for a good 15 or 20 minutes before even thinking about a nibble.

Fifteen to twenty minutes up yet? Get some good olive oil, crack some peppercorns in a dish and add a little inside. Break some bread with friends! Seeing how well this turns out, I'll be making stuff like this at least every week.


deedles said...

Ohwow! Beautiful and I know it tasted even better than it looks...MMM. I want some.

Chuck said...

I'm making some sharp cheddar & garlic boulles tonight, and I'll bring you one :)