My hubby and I went to the Alexandria farmer’s market this past weekend and we stopped by one of the vendors selling delicious looking breads and baked goods. One of the loaves that my hubby was eyeing was a savory cheese bread. He was going to buy it, but then I decided that I would try baking it for him. So I found a recipe from the Panera Baking Cookbook for Italian Cheese Bread. This bread was actually very simple to make and didn’t require too much time to proof or raise. I used a blend of Italian cheeses (Asiago, Parmesan, Fontina, and Romano). This recipe baked two beautiful loaves that I simply could not resist slicing into right after they came out of the oven. This bread is moist, super fluffy, and has the perfect crunchy crust. It also has a wonderful cheese flavor that will make you want to eat the entire loaf. I was good and used some restraint to resist eating one of the entire loaves before my husband got home. But as soon as he walked in the door and smelled that my-wife-just-baked-fresh-bread-! smell, he proceeded to eat the loaf like there was no tomorrow.
I am a staunch advocate of supporting your local farmers and vendors; in this case, it was fun to save the $6 and bake my own cheese bread. But rest assured that my $6 went to another vendor’s awesome goat cheese. In general, there are things we spend money on at our farmer’s market and some things we don’t; I can’t grow 30 pounds of tomatoes on my back porch, so I bought 30 pounds from a local farmer last summer so I could can some tomato sauce (you likka the sauce?). The same goes for most veggies, fruits, and cheeses. As much as I wish I could make my own brie, I can’t. Herbs and baked goods we usually pass on because I grow my own herbs on the back porch and because baked goods I can usually take a stab at making if we see something we really want to try.
What are your favorite farmer’s market purchases? Do you pass on things or generally try them all?
- 1 cup warm water (95-105 degrees)
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup warm water (95-105 degrees)
- 3 tbsp honey
- 4 tsp (0.5 oz) active dry yeast
- ¼ cup plus 1 tsp vegetable shortening
- 4 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups Italian shredded cheese (I used a blend of Asiago, Parmesan, Fontina, and Romano)
- To create the starter, combine the water and yeast in a medium mixing bowl. Stir to dissolve the yeast fully.
- Add the flour to the bowl and stir until the ingredients are fully incorporated. Cover with a cloth and ferment the starter at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- For the dough, combine the water, honey and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir to dissolve the yeast fully.
- Add the shortening, flour, salt, cheeses and fermented starter. Mix on low speed until the dough is fully developed.
- Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and divide into 2 pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a smooth ball and place in two separate bowls that have been lightly greased with vegetable oil. Cover the bowls with warm cloths and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
- Spray two baking loaf pans with cooking spray. Form the dough into loaves, place into pans, cover with warm cloths and allow to proof at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Score the loaves with a sharp knife, sprinkle lightly with water, and bake for 30 minutes, or until the crusts are a deep golden brown.
- Remove the bread from the oven and the loaf pans and place on a cooling rack for 30 minutes. Makes 2 loaves
*Adapted from the Panera Bread Cookbook