I admit it. I'm always drawn to cheese bread. While looking for a bread to make for this month's Twelve Loaves holiday theme and sorting through tons of sweet breads, I stumbled upon this bread. Cheeeeeese!
I'm watching Biggest Loser as I write this... alrighty then.
This is an egg bread loaded with parmesan cheese. When it bakes, your house will smell divine.
According to the King Arthur Flour website (I heart King Arthur Flour), this bread is traditionally baked in a pandoro pan. As luck would have it, I happen to have one of those (of course I do). Another Italian site (or at least it is written in Italian) shows the bread baked in the shape of a panettone. I happen to have panettone papers too (naturally, you never know when you want to whip up a panettone).
In the end, I liked the idea of a braided loaf because it is easier to slice.
While probably not authentic, I added a tablespoon of freshly minced oregano and a pinch of crushed red pepper.
Be aware that the texture of this bread is not soft. This bread is best when it's toasted and the cheese melts. The toast is great with a little bit of butter, salami or other Italian deli meats, or spread with hot marinara sauce.
Crescia al Formaggio
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
298 grams all-purpose unbleached flour
1 1/4 tsp instant yeast (I used SAF Gold)
3 large room temperature eggs
1 egg yolk from a large egg
1/4 C lukewarm water
4 T softened butter
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Large pinch of crushed red pepper rubbed between your hands to release the flavor
1 1/2 T minced fresh oregano
170 g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Add all of the ingredients except the cheese and oregano to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium with the paddle attachment for 10 minutes, scraping down the bowl with a dough scraper every few minutes. The dough should be shiny and sticky, and begin to clear the bowl. For me, this happened suddenly and magically at about nine minutes.
- Switch to the dough hook and add the cheese and oregano. Knead until everything is combined.
- Move the dough to a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it sit for about an hour.
- Turn the dough over and gently deflate it (if it rose at all), and let it sit for another hour.
- Weigh the dough and divide it into three equal pieces. Roll the pieces out into 12 inch logs and braid the dough. Check out this post to see a cool braiding technique. Spray a 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan with spray oil and place the braid in the pan.
- Allow the dough to rise for at least two hours and possibly more, depending on the room temperature. The dough will not double, but will get puffy.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Bake the bread for 15 minutes and then lower the oven to 350 degrees F and tent the bread with foil. Bake the bread for another 30 minutes. The bread should reach an internal temperature of 190 degrees F.
- Remove the bread from the oven and allow it to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn the bread out of the pan and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack.