Get the Bread Out
In Rhode Island, GC and I went out for a nice quiet dinner. We had some service problems, including a mystery Scotch and a tardy glass of wine, but the food was excellent. GC had broiled scallops and I had pinot noir duck. The duck was overcooked, but still very tasty. The best thing about the meal, though, was the bread. I was disappointed when I first looked in the bread basket, because it just looked like slices of sandwich bread. I was hungry, though, so I pulled off half of a slice, and then ended up eating the rest of the basket, even foregoing dessert in favor of another slice of bread with butter. The waiter told me that the restaurant would sell me a loaf of bread to take with me, but I decided to savor it there. I really would have rather had the recipe.
I do have lots of bread recipes, but when it comes time to make bread, I usually opt for the easy bread-machine recipes. Reminded of just how good homemade bread could be, though, I picked out a recipe for a conventional loaf of bread and I made it yesterday. The recipe I chose was intriguing, including pesto and grits in the list of ingredients. I have lots of pesto and have been searching for ways to use it, and I had plenty of grits left after I made a grits casserole last week, so a loaf of basil pesto-cheese grits bread seemed a good choice. It is now cool enough outside to turn on the oven during the day, which is a blessing and a curse. The ideal temperature for letting bread rise is 85F; it was 65F in the house. After 45 minutes of not rising, I took the dough to the basement and put it on top of the dryer (which was running). It started to rise, but very slowly, so I took out the warm blanket that was in the dryer and wrapped it around the bowl of bread dough. About 20 minutes later, the dough had doubled in size, so I formed the loaf, and put it in the pan for the second rise. It didn't rise very much, but I baked it anyway, hoping maybe it would rise a bit in the oven. No, not really. I ended up with a 2" high loaf of bread. It's a pretty bread, sort of unusually shaped from rolling in both sides, with a green swirl of pesto in the center. The texture was actually really good, soft and chewy, but this is not the superior loaf of bread I had been hoping for.
This is a specialty bread, and would go especially well with chicken salad or tomato soup.
Basil Pesto-Cheese Grits Bread
I decreased the recipe by 1/3 to make just one loaf of bread. Because the grits-yeast mixture was so small, I had to stir it by hand to make it smooth; there just wasn't enough for the dough hook to reach. I added the flour by 1/3-cupfuls, scraping down the sides between each addition.
2 cups milk
3/4 cup quick-cooking grits, uncooked
2 teaspoons salt
1 (10-ounce) block white Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
1/4 cup sugar
2 (1/4-ounce) envelopes rapid-rise yeast
5 to 6 cups bread flour
1/4 cup prepared basil pesto
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella or crumbled goat cheese
Bring milk to a boil in a large sauce-pan over medium heat; stir in grits, and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes (mixture will be very thick). Remove from heat; add salt and cheese, stirring until cheese is melted. Let stand 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Combine 1 cup warm water, sugar, and yeast in the mixing bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer; let stand 5 minutes. Add grits mixture, beating at medium-low speed with the dough hook attachment until well blended.
Add 4 cups flour, 1 cup at a time, beating until blended after each addition and stopping to scrape down sides as necessary. Gradually add enough flour to make a stiff but slightly sticky dough. Dough will form a ball around mixer attachment.
Shape dough into a ball with well-floured hands, and place in a well- greased bowl, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
Punch dough down, and divide into thirds; roll each third into a 14- x 9-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Spread basil pesto evenly over each dough rectangle; sprinkle each with mozzarella or crumbled goat cheese. Roll up, jelly-roll fashion, starting with each short side and ending at middle of dough; form 2 rolls per loaf. Place into lightly greased 9- x 5-inch loafpans; cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden. Let bread cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
Note: For testing purposes only, we used Cracker Barrel Vermont Sharp White Cheddar. [I used Cabot Vermont Extra Sharp White Cheddar- BA]
Yield: Makes 3 loaves
Southern Living, APRIL 2005
I'd like to try this one again when it is warm enough for the dough to rise as it should. It was pretty good though, even without proper rising.
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