‘Food on the Hill’: Italian Parmesan Cheese and Herb Bread

“Food on the Hill” by Sue York

 
This week’s recipe…
 
Italian Parmesan Cheese and Herb Bread
 
 
1¼ cup warm water ** see note about water in recipe
1Package of dried active yeast
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3 Cups of bread flour (I use King Arthur)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons dry milk powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons of softened butter
4 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese (Kraft is fine)
1 teaspoons dried chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 ½ teaspoons dried marjoram
1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
Small amount of olive oil for pan
 
 
** I always use distilled water when I bake. I have found that I have had problems with city water and the chemicals killing my yeast. Proof yeast in warm water ( 100 degrees – or warm on the inner side of your wrist.) To proof it – I take a small bowl and rinse the bowl in some of the left over distilled water, it will take off the dish washing soap that may be left on it. Then I put the 1 ¼ cups of distilled water in the bowl and pop it in the microwave for about 20 seconds and check the temperature on it. I use the inside of my wrist method. Once it is warm enough, I mix in the dry active yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar used in the recipe. Mix until all is dissolved. It will be a light tan in the bowl at this time. Over time the proofing will cause little bubbles and the mixture looks like it is turning to a lighter/whiter color. What you are doing is waking up the yeast and the sugar gives it something to eat when it wakes up.
 
 
 
FOOD PROCESSOR
 
If you are using a food processor you can mix all the rest of the ingredients together and pulse it a few times to cut in the butter and mix the ingredients. Add the proofed yeast mixture slowly until the mixture comes into a ball. Mix for about 4 minutes on “dough” button and then turn onto a floured board.
 
STAND MIXER
 
If you are using a Stand Mixer, divide the mixed dry ingredients in half (save ½ in another bowl.) Add the proofed yeast mixture to the first ½ of the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl and incorporate. Change to your dough hook when the dough is getting less wet and more like a dough. Slowly add in the rest of the dry ingredients that you had saved in another bowl. I find it is easiest to add in things when they are on a paper plate. It holds them nicely and bends to match the bowl. Mix for about 4 minutes with dough hook and then turn onto a floured board.
 
BY HAND
 
If you are mixing by hand, divide the mixed dry ingredients in half (save ½ in another bowl.) Add the proofed yeast mixture to the ½ dry ingredients in the mixing bowl and incorporate. Slowly add in the rest of the dry ingredients that you had saved in another bowl. After everything is incorporated turn onto a floured board.
 
 
Kneading
 
Knead the dough (push and pull, fold and flip), adding flour just a bit at a time until your dough feels “springy.”
 
 
When you push the dough with your finger the dough should spring back at you. The more you work with bread the more you will know what the feeling you are looking for. It will take the longest when mixed by hand for this. If you have used either one of the mixers you have done a lot of this already in the machines. Fold the dough into a round. (**Turn on the oven to 100 degrees-NOW.)
Take a large bowl and small amount of olive oil and rub it on the inside of the bowl. Take the round of dough and rub the top of it in the bottom of the bowl to coat the top with oil and then flip it right side up.
 
 
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a damp (warm) tea towel. (TURN THE OVEN OFF –NOW.) You are just getting the oven to a temperature around 90 degrees, or just warm when the door is opened. Put the covered bowl in the TURNED OFF OVEN.
 
 
The dough should double in size in about 1 hour. After it has doubled fold the dough in on itself and form a loaf. Spray a loaf pan with non-stick food spray and put the loaf into the pan. (is the oven still warm from last time, or do you need to re-warm it?) Take the tea towel and re-warm it, lay it on the bottom of the rack and put the plastic wrap back over the bread pan. Put it back in the oven to rise again (** MAKE SURE THE OVEN IS OFF.) I take off the plastic about 20 minutes into this rise.
 
 
Take the bread out of the oven when the top of the dough has risen 1 inch above the edge of the pan. (**TAKE OUT THE TOWEL.) Heat the oven to 400 degrees and put the pan back into the oven when it is to temperature.
 
 
The bread will continue to rise during the beginning of the baking, until the crust is set. Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.
 
 
Watch the crust, if it is getting too brown too quick make a tent with aluminum foil and place it over the top. It you have a food thermometer; the inside of the bread should read 197-198 degrees when done. If you don’t look for the signs that it is done, brown crust, pulled away from the sides of the pan, and when thumped with finger it sounds hollow.
 
Cut only after cooled. This makes great toast!
 
Italian Parmesan Cheese and Herb Bread
 
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