Gooey cheese and warm bread - I'm not sure I need to say much else about this recipe :) If you've ever had monkey bread, this is essentially its savory counterpart - melted butter and cheese are layered between pieces of yeast dough and baked until golden and delicious. Just like monkey bread, you don't cut the bread into slices so much as grab bite-sized pieces from the loaf, which makes it really fun to eat. As if our corned beef and cabbage dinner last night wasn't decadent enough, I decided to add this cheesy bread to the mix. It actually wound up being more of an appetizer since I pulled it from the oven about an hour before the corned beef finished cooking. We stood around the island in the kitchen pulling pieces off one after another - it was completely irresistible!
As bread making goes, it doesn't get much easier than this recipe. You don't have to shape loaves or rolls - you simply divide the dough into pieces and toss them into the pan with the cheese. I adapted the recipe from King Arthur Flour's site just slightly to make it work with the ingredients I already had in the house. Instead of the pizza dough flavoring they used, I went with garlic powder and oregano but you could use whatever flavorings for the dough you happened to have on hand. My loaf was made with a combination of all-purpose and white whole wheat flour, which practically allows me to claim it as health food, right? The whole wheat cancels out all the cheesy pockets of goodness throughout the bread :) It's definitely comfort food, and perfect for the lingering cold nights we're experiencing here in New England.
Golden Cheesy Bread
adapted from King Arthur Flour
1 cup lukewarm water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup dry (powdered) milk
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the water, butter, all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, dry milk, garlic powder, oregano, salt, onion powder and yeast. Mix until the ingredients come together and form a rough dough. Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed for about 7 minutes, or until the dough is soft and smooth. The dough will be tacky, that's fine.
Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Add the dough to the bowl, turning to coat, then cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until very puffy (it may not be quite doubled in size).
Remove the dough from the bowl to a lightly greased work surface and press gently to deflate. Now, you want to divide the dough into about 64 small pieces of roughly the same size. Don't worry too much about making them perfect! I think the easiest way to do this is to grab a sharp knife or bench scraper and divide the dough ball in half. Then, working with one half at a time, divide each piece in half over and over until you have 32 pieces. You don't have to roll the final pieces into balls - whatever rough shape they have is fine.
Spray a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper and spray the parchment with cooking spray too.
Put 16 pieces of dough into the bottom of the prepared pan.
Distribute 1/3 cup of the shredded cheese over the dough pieces then brush with some of the melted butter.
Now repeat: put 16 more pieces of dough on top of the first layer you created.
Then distribute another 1/3 cup of shredded cheese, and brush with some more of the melted butter.
I think you get the point - you want to repeat two more times so you use all of the dough. When you finish the final layer, brush the dough with the butter, but don't sprinkle with the final 1/3 cup of cheese. We're going to save that for later.
Cover the pan with plastic wrap, and let the bread rise for about 30 to 60 minutes, or until it's just barely risen above the rim of the pan. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 F.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the loaf is golden and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers between 190 and 200 F. If the top of the bread is browning too quickly, you can tent with aluminum foil.
Remove the bread from the oven, and run a knife along the edges of the pan to loosen it. Let rest for 2 minutes, then turn the bread out of the pan onto a rimmed baking sheet. With the bread right side up, distribute the last 1/3 cup of cheese over the top. Return to the oven for about 2 minutes, or until the cheese starts to melt. Remove from the oven and serve warm.