January 22, 2015

Dutch Oven Cheddar Cheese Bread

I am not great with being a team player, I never have been. Growing up I was naturally drawn to running, swimming, and dance. If I did well it was me doing it, not me relying on numerous other people to have success. Yes, they were team sports, but only in the larger sense, your team could lose and you could still medal. Awesome. My lack of ability to play well with others was readily apparent when I started work. At first I thought it was all in my head, until we had one of those horrible team building days. One of the activities was to find your personality type and break into groups based on them. I was the only one in my group. All the other groups had bunches of people. Not me, my personality type was just me. While many people would be upset by this finding, I was ecstatic. It wasn't all in my head, I really am not great working with others. So I blame my lack of cooperation on my personality, and I blame my personality on my mother who was the oldest of 12 kids. Being a natural born leader is in my blood, I learned quickly growing up to get out ahead of the pack before the chaos ensued. Sometimes being in front isn't so bad, even if it means you aren't part of the group.

Before I got married I had never made homemade bread. My mother never made it and I had no idea where to start. It took me many failed attempts until I learned that making bread has to start with a  great recipe. Over the last 10 years I have tried so many recipes that failed to live up to my expectations. The following recipe has worked every single time I have made it. I make it at least once a week to go with soups and it is delicious!

Dutch Oven Cheddar Cheese Bread

  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 3/4 cups water (70-75 degrees)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal
  • 4 ounces diced or shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Cooking Directions
  1. Dissolve yeast in the warm water.
  2. In another large bowl mix the flour and salt.
  3. Add the yeast/water to the flour.
  4. Using a plastic spatula or wooden spoon mix dough until smooth (do not knead).
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature for 1 hour.
  6. Uncover and punch down dough.
  7. On a lightly floured surface pat the dough into a 9 inch square.
  8. Fold the dough into thirds creating a 9 by 3 inch triangle.
  9. Fold the rectangle in thirds to form a 9 inch square.
  10. Turn the dough over (so the seam is on the bottom) and place into a greased bowl.
  11. Cover and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour.
  12. Punch dough down and repeat folding process above.
  13. Return dough to greased bowl, cover, and place in fridge overnight.
  14. Oil the bottom of a dutch oven and dust with 1 tablespoon cornmeal.
  15. Sprinkle cheddar cheese over dough and knead until incorporated (8-10 times).
  16. Shape the dough into a 6 inch round loaf and place into the greased dutch oven.
  17. Cover and allow to rise at room temperature for 1 1/4 hours.
  18. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
  19. Make a 1/4 inch slash across the top of the loaf.
  20. Place lid on dutch oven and bake for 25 minutes.
  21. Turn oven down to 450 degrees F, remove lid, and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes.
  22. Let completely cool before slicing.
  • This bread can also be made with dried cranberries. Omit the cheddar cheese and in step 15 add 1 cup dried cranberries and 4 teaspoons grated orange peel. The cranberry bread is great for turkey or ham sandwiches, my family loves it! 
  • The cheese bread makes delicious grilled cheese sandwiches. The cheese in the bread makes for a cheesy and gooey sandwich! 
  • This recipe can look a little intimidating with all the steps, but trust me it's actually pretty easy. Most of the time involved is when the dough is resting, the actual hands on work is minimal. 
  • This is a good base recipe to experiment with different mix ins. Just add whatever combination you desire in step 15 or leave out the cheddar cheese completely for a great plain rustic bread. 

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