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Cheese Bread

Cheese Bread

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Makes 1 loaf.
By Dennis W. Viau; adapted from a formula in Professional Baking by Wayne Gisslen.

This bread benefits from a garnish of Romano cheese and crisp-fried prosciutto. They add a satisfying flavor and crunch to what would otherwise be a standard bread. For this loaf I followed a strict metric formula, but I give imperial measurements as well.

Ingredients:

For the Bread:
Water: 200g / 8 fl. oz. / 1 cup
Milk: 100g / 4 fl. oz. / ½ cup
Sugar: 14g / ¾ oz. / 1 tablespoon
Active dry yeast: 6g / 2 teaspoons
or fresh (baker’s) yeast: 18g / ¾ oz. / 2 tablespoons
Egg: 1 large (60g in the shell), separated
Flour: 500g / 1 lb. 4 oz. / 4 cups
Salt: 12g / ½ oz. / 2 teaspoons
Fat (whole butter): 18g / ¾ oz. / 4 teaspoons
For the Garnish:
Cheese: (Parmesan or Romano) 18g / ¾ oz. / ¼ cup, shredded
Prosciutto: 1 slice fried until crisp and then finely chopped (7g / ¼ oz.)

Directions:

Combine the water and milk (preferably at room temperature or slightly warmed) with the sugar and yeast in a large bowl. Let stand 3 to 5 minutes to activate the yeast. Add the egg yolk (retain the white) and mix.

Add about half the flour with the salt and mix to form a batter. Start adding flour, a little at a time, until the mixture comes together to form a moist dough. You might need less or more flour than the amount in the formula above, depending on how much moisture your flour absorbs. (I almost always need to adjust.) Add the fat and knead until it is thoroughly combined into the dough.

Knead the dough 5 to 8 minutes until smooth (this can be done in a stand mixer with a dough hook). Place the dough in a large greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth. Set aside to rise until doubled in bulk, about an hour (or longer, depending on the warmth of your kitchen).

While the dough is rising, shred the cheese. Fry the prosciutto until crisp, then finely chop.

For the second rise, punch the dough down and shape into a loaf to either fit your bread pan or to place on a baking sheet. Mix the reserved egg white with a few teaspoons of water to make an egg wash. Brush the outside of the loaf with egg wash and garnish well with shredded cheese and prosciutto. Place in your baking pan and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Heat the oven to 175°C (350°F) with a rack in the lower center. Place the loaf pan or baking sheet in the oven and bake until done. Depending on the shape of the pan used, baking time could be 30 to 50 minutes. Bake until browned and the loaf has a hollow sound when thumped. For accuracy, I use a digital thermometer. The bread is done when the internal temperature is around 95°C (200°F) in the center.

Cool thoroughly on a rack before slicing.