I know what you're thinking ..."What the heck is she doing baking bread during the hottest week of the summer?" It was six o'clock in the cool of the morning when I got the idea ... no, urge.
I've been ramping myself up to make brioche in those cool, round, brown paper, mile-high baking parchments that make brioche look so darn impressive ... but first, I thought I'd play with breads that are full of eggs and air and on this particular day, cheese and chives. This morning though, I have those cheesy little foil pans that will contain this fluffy dough and have walls high enough to let the dough rise up and flop over the edges like a fat lady stuffed into a too small bathing suit.
It's going to be a hot, hot day today. Even so, I have had an unnatural urge to make soup and bread ... I know. What's up with that? It all the beautiful broccoli that has come from the side shoots of the broccoli plants in SB's garden. Perfect for making Cream of Broccoli Soup. Hence, the bread must compliment ... and there's nothing like fresh, warm bread for dipping in a creamy soup. So ... it's early and the dough is sitting pretty in my cluttered kitchen 'cozy corner'.
The morning sun will do its magic on that bread dough ... and later, I'll flatten the dough and roll cheese into it, form up fat little rounds of dough and plop them into the pans.
Given time to rise up and balloon an inch or so over the top of the pans, they will be ready for a hot oven.
And while they bake, I will be looking at the brioche recipe in my favorite bread baking book ... the woman's a genius when it comes to bread ... I have learned so much from this book of hers.
Twenty five minutes later, the mini-loaves are looking very golden and puffy - kinda like those fat ladies that you see on the beach that glory in lettin' it all hang out ... so very Rubenesque. Gorgeous and full and utterly soft and wonderful!
Let me just say ... the bread and soup was phenomenal. Yup, I'm feeling I could move on to the brioche ... now, what soup might I make for that baking bacchanalia?
Cheddar Cheese Mini-Loaves with Chives
An adapted recipe from Beth Hensperger’s The Bread Bible
⅓ c. dried chives, snipped
2 c. warm water (109 ° F)
1 tbsp. active dry yeast
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 ½ tsp. salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
5 ½ c. bread flour plus a bit more for kneading
3 c. grated Cheddar cheese, divided in half
Making the Bread:
- Mix the yeast into ½ c. of the warm water. Add the pinch of sugar and set the yeast mixture aside for ten minutes until it is foamy.
- In a large deep bowl, mix together the other 1½ c. water, the eggs, and the vegetable oil.
- Add the chives, 2 c. of the flour measure and the yeast mixture. Beat well … about 2 minutes by hand or minute if you’re using a handmixer.
- Add half the cheese measure and work it into the mixture.
- Beat in the rest of flour by hand, until a shaggy dough is formed.
- Turn the dough and loose floury shaggy bits onto a cool kneading surface and knead for about five minutes. Knead in the shaggy bits of dough and use a tablespoon of extra flour at a time to keep the dough moving on the surface and not sticking to your hands or the kneading surface.
- When the dough is smooth and silky feeling and balls up nicely, cover it and let it rest while you clean out the dough bowl and grease it up.
- Plop the dough ball into the greased bowl and turn it to coat the top of the dough ball.
- Cover the bowl and let it rest in a warm, sunny spot until the dough has doubledin size (2 hours).
- Gently deflate the dough and plop it out onto a lightly floured surface. Pat the dough into a big rectangle about 12 inches by 8 inches.
- Scatter the other half of the grated cheese onto the dough and fold the rectangle up like a letter you’d put in an envelope.
- Now knead the dough to distribute the cheese. Knead for only a minute or so.
- Divide the dough into six equal balls and shape into mini-loaves.
- Place in six greased pans and cover with a towel. Let the bread dough rise until the dough is one inch above the top of the pans – about 45 minutes.
- A half hour before the loaves are ready for the oven, preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and bake the bread for 25 minutes. The loaves will sound hollow when rapped with a knuckle.
- Cool on a rack before cutting the bread.