February 28, 2010

Pain au Fromage

Translated, Cheese Hearth Bread. This bread smells absolutely fantastic and tastes just as good when served warm. I couldn't place it's distinctive flavor and smell until I realized it tastes like Cheezits in bread form.

Pain au Fromage
2 tsp. dry yeast
1 1/4 cups water
3 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil
8 oz. shredded sharp Cheddar

Sprinkle yeast in 1/2 cup water. Let sit 5 minutes and stir to dissolve. Mix flour and salt in large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour, and pour in the dissolved yeast.

Use a wooden spoon to draw enough of the flour into the dissolved yeast to form a soft paste. Cover the bowl with a dish towel and let sit 20 minutes.

Pour about half the remaining water into the well. Mix in flour. Stir in the reserved water as needed to form a firm, moist dough. Knead dough until smooth and elastic. Then knead in shredded cheese (and this will likely take longer than expected ... be patient).

Put dough into clean bowl, and cover. Let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down, and let rest 10 minutes. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces by flattening into a round and cutting into triangles. Let rest 10 minutes.

Roll out each piece of dough into a flat, oval shape, about 1/4 inch thick. If dough resists, let rest 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer dough onto two greased baking sheets.

With a sharp knife, make 5 slashes across each dough, leaving 1 inch on either edge. Open up each slash by pulling gently apart. Cover and let rest 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until crisp, golden and hollow sounding when tapped underneath. Cool on a wire rack.

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