Onion Garlic Cheese Bread

I managed 18 hours at home yesterday, and made some kick ass onion garlic cheese bread. Threw the dough together, slapped it in the fridge, and then pulled it out 12 hours later. It was kick ass. See?

Onion Garlic Cheese Bread

So, that’s my bread. I haven’t shared the recipe here, because it’s from Artisan Bread In 5 Minutes a Day, and I felt bad sharing something the authors put together. But, then I went to their website, and they actually list the recipe there, and mention that you can’t copy the recipe, but you can post a modified version.

Conundrum solved. I’ll post my version of the recipe here, and if you like it, great. I advise buying the book, this is not the only sort of bread they offer in there, although it makes up a good chunk of the recipes. The book goes into detail about how to use what sorts of flour, and a whole mess of recipes, so it’s worth spending money on. I might even give a copy away, if there’s interest.

So, here’s the recipe for my onion garlic cheese bread, based on Artisan Bread In 5 Minutes a Day‘s Boule bread recipe.

Ingredients:
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons (4.5 teaspoons, or 2 packets) of yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons (4.5 teaspoons) of kosher salt (decrease by 25% if using normal salt)
6 1/2 cups of unbleached, all purpose flour
1/4 cup dried onion flakes
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 1/2 cups Tillamook shredded cheddar
1 1/2 cups parmesean, shredded/grated

Kitchen Implements:
Big bowl with fitted lid ā€“ should hold 5 quarts, lid should not be airtight
Spoon
Cookie sheet ā€“ Unless you have a baking stone
Broiler pan or loaf pan ā€“ for holding water

Optional Stuff – Useful
Pizza Peel
Baking stone
Oven thermometer
Fine ground cornmeal

Prep The Dough
In your big bowl, combine your water, salt, and yeast, along with the onion flakes and the garlic. I use jarred minced garlic because I am lazy, but you could use fresh as well, just decrease the amount a bit. If you like lots of garlic, use lots.

Dump in your flour, and the cheese. You don’t have to use these cheeses, I had Parmesan leftover, so I used it. Stir it all together. Sometimes I end up using my hands. I recommend getting them wet before you do it, otherwise you’re going to have dough mittens by the time you’re done. You may need to add a tiny amount of additional water if you put a lot of cheese in.

If you want to experiment with the plain version, omit the onion, garlic, and cheese. Also good is to add herbs you like, rosemary makes a fragrant loaf, and you could sprinkle it with coarse salt before baking, to mimic the Macaroni Grill’s bread. Not the same, but good.

Once you dough has come together, put the lid on it (not airtight) and leave it out on the counter for 2 hours. I used a Rubbermaid bowl with a snap on lid, and just don’t snap all four corners down. When you come back in 2 hours (or longer, if you’re busy), your dough should have taken over the bowl. 5 quarts is big enough to keep it from oozing out onto the counter. Toss it into the fridge, unless you wan to use it RIGHT NOW. It’s easier to handle when it’s been in the fridge an hour or two.

 

Making The Loaves

To make a loaf of bread, you can go a couple ways. The book recommends that you dust the top with flour, and then reach in and grab a handful, pulling it up. I find if I do this, I get stringy dough with too much flour, and then it wont’ rise quite like I’m happy with.

So here’s how I do it. I take a serrated knife (might be able to do it with a sharp non serrated one) and I either divide my dough into 4 portions (if I’m cooking for my extended family), or I cut off roughly 1/4 of the dough. I use an ancient grapefruit knife my grandma has. She and my grandfather bought it the first year they were married. He’s been gone 5 years this July, and they were married a few days short of 55 years when he passed. So, this grapefruit knife is older than dirt. I love it.

 

Digression aside, I take my hunk of dough, and I try, very carefully, to form it into a round shape. I view it as having 4 sides, and very gently, tuck each side under. This gives me a fairly uniform roundish shape, with a bunch of lumpy bits underneath.

Now, it’s time to let the loaf rise. This is where things differ, depending on your equipment. I like to use a pizza peel, and I bake on a baking stone. If you don’t have either of these, use a cookie sheet. If you have some find ground cornmeal, sprinkle it down, otherwise use flour. Set your loaf on your peel/sheet, and cur some slices in it for expansion. Then let it be.

How long you need to let it sit depends on how cold your dough is, and how much you handled it. I tend to over handle my dough, which causes a lot of the air bubbles to take off. So, I let it sit longer. Fresh dough can sit about 40 minutes, if I’ve refrigerated it, I tend to let it sit out at least an hour.

 

Baking

20 minutes before you’re ready to bake your loaf, get the oven ready. Middle rack is where you’ll bake. If you have a baking stone, leave it there, otherwise leave the space open for your cookie sheet. On a bottom rack, put your other pan. This pan is going to hold water and steam the loaf as it cooks. I recommend broiled pans, there’s enough area to get a good steam going, and I don’t have to pull them out too far.

Turn your oven to 450 degrees.

In 20 minutes the oven isn’t going to get up to 450 degrees, especially if you have a baking stone in it. The book says it’s not a big deal. Personally, I give it an extra 15 minutes most days. If you’re not using a baking stone, 20 minutes should be fine.

Before you throw your bread in, get about a cup of hot water in something you can pour with. Slap your cookie sheet with bread in, or slide it off the pizza peel onto the baking stone. Then, pour that hot water into your bottom pan. Shut the door. Walk away for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, check your bread. The outside should be golden brown to darker brown, and it should sound hollow when thumped. If that’s how it looks, pull it out, and set it on a wire rack to cool.

Don’t cut into it until it’s cooled down. If you do, you get gummy bread. My family is impatient, so we end up with some gummy bread. They still love it.

If you let it cool, cut into it, and it’s under baked, consider investing a few bucks in an oven thermometer, and then baking your bread longer. I find my oven’s about 40 degrees too cold, so I compensate by upping the baking time by 5-7 minutes. I used to turn up the heat, but I found I was getting too dark of a crust too fast. So, I turned it back down and just bake longer.

Your dough will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge, but I’ve never held mine for more than 3-4 days. Because I’m not home for long, I try not to leave some in the back of the fridge to get sentient and take over. You’ll find there’s a sourdough smell to your bread if you let it sit a couple days, and the texture will be more sour dough like. It’s normal, and according to the book, can really improve the taste and texture of your bread. I make loaves for my whole family (aunt, uncle, and kids; my father and his wife, and my grandmother, my partner, and myself) so I go through 4 loaves of bread in 1 or 2 days. But, for a family, or a couple who won’t eat a whole loaf a day, you can get several days out of each batch.

A note about 1 pound loaves. If you’re familiar with making bread, either by hand or in a machine, you’ll probably know a 1 pound loaf isn’t that big. But, if you’re like me, and had no idea, here’s a rough approximation of how big it is: it’s about half the size of a loaf of store made white or wheat bread. About 2/3 the size of a dinner plate, and about as tall as a coffee mug. Really, if you slice it about an inch thick, you get about 6 slices.

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