Umbrian Cheese Bread

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READY IN: 3hrs 45mins
Recipe by gailanng

This bread bakes up with a crisp, brown crust and a soft, cheesy interior. The recipe begins with a sponge, which is just a yeast starter that gives the dough an extra boost of flavor and texture. Serve with a hearty bowl of soup and glass of wine. Keep leftovers wrapped and refrigerated up to a week. Leftovers good sliced and grilled. A tip: cut your parmesan cheese into little cubes and grate in a food processer. Makes 1 large (almost 3 lbs) loaf or 2 smaller 1 1/2 lb loaves. From Paula Lambert's Cheese Lover's Cookbook.

Ingredients Nutrition

Directions

  1. For the Starter Sponge, place the warm water in a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast over the water. Add the sugar and stir to moisten the yeast. Set aside to proof; if the mixture bubbles and has foam on the surface, the yeast is active. Place the flour in a large bowl, add the proofed yeast and stir to combine. Cover and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
  2. For the Cheese Bread, place the warm water in a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the water, add the pinch of sugar and stir to moisten the yeast. Set aside to proof; if the mixture bubbles and has foam on the surface, it is active.
  3. Beat the eggs with the olive oil, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, butter and salt in a medium bowl. Add the proofed yeast and mix well. Stir this mixture into the starter sponge. Add the flour and mix well. If using a stand mixer, knead by machine for about 10 minutes, adding more flour as needed to create a smooth, soft dough (you may have to add up to 1/2 cups additional flour, but remember keep the dough soft). Add in the cubed Gruyere. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for another minute. If kneading by hand, you can go ahead and add the Gruyere cheese before the 10 minute kneading.
  4. Shape the dough into a smooth, flattened ball.
  5. Butter and flour a 9 x 2-inch round pan (at least 2 quarts) and place the dough in the pan (I suggest you use at least a 10-inch round spring-side pan). Cover and set aside to rise until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. If making 2 smaller loaves, place them in two 9 x 5 loaf pans or two 8 x 2-inch round pans.
  6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  7. Beat the egg yolk with a fork and brush on the top of the dough. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 325 degrees F. and continue to bake for 40 to 50 minutes longer, or until the bread has risen high above the sides of the pan (s) and the crust is a deep golden brown. Do not open the oven door during the first hour of baking. Or, if using two smaller pans, bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then at 325 for about 30 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven and set on a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan(s) to finish cooling.

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