Friday, May 1, 2009

Sourdough Starter and Bread Adventure: 5 Parmesan Cheese Bread

The one problem with baking bread is that I then eat the bread. It smells so good, and it’s so fresh, and each type I’ve tried so far is so different from the last that I can’t resist the baking or the eating. You know the rule about reading a recipe all the way through before beginning? That is never more important than with a bread recipe, and luckily I actually followed that rule this time. Some breads are prepared in one day, and others can take multiple days. Most of the time is spent waiting, but it’s good to know what those wait times are so you can plan accordingly. This parmesan cheese bread is, again, from the Bread from the La Brea Bakery book. It’s described as a two-day bread. However, on day two, the dough is left in the refrigerator to proof for eight to twelve hours. When I read that, this recipe became a three-day bread for me.

Day one was actually not much of a day at all since the only thing to be done was to make a sponge from water, white starter, and flour. That fermented for twelve hours. On day two, the dough was formed from the sponge, more water, fresh yeast, and flour. This was mixed, allowed to rest, and then salt was added. Silverton suggested adding chopped, fresh marjoram to the dough, and I have some in my herb garden, but I chose to use my fresh oregano instead. I just prefer the flavor of oregano. So, chopped oregano, freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, and olive oil were then mixed into the dough. It was turned out onto a board and kneaded briefly. It felt like all the cheese was falling out of the dough as I turned and kneaded it, but it worked out fine. The dough then fermented for a few hours in an oiled bowl, and as it expanded, it pulled all the cheese in and became more cohesive.

Next, the dough was slapped onto the work surface to deflate, left to rest a bit, rounded into a boule, and placed in a regular bowl since I’m still lacking the recommended proofing baskets. This was covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated until the next day. On what was for me day three, or baking day, the dough was removed from the refrigerator and allowed to come up to room temperature. It was turned out onto parchment paper and flattened into a disk. It was dimpled with my fingertips and brushed with olive oil. More parmigiano reggiano was spread on top, and it was, at last, placed with the parchment into a water-spritzed 500 degree oven that was immediately turned down to 450. The oven got another couple of water spritzes, and after 15 minutes, the parchment paper under the loaf was removed. The total baking time was 35 minutes, but because it was baking directly on a stone on the base of my oven, it browned quickly on the bottom. I moved the loaf up to a higher rack for the last 10 minutes.

The crispy baked-on parmigiano on the top was a real attention getter, but the chewy inside of the loaf was not to be ignored. The cheese melted into the dough, and the texture was soft and lovely. This loaf was less airy than the rustic bread but not dense. Sadly, the oregano that smelled so fantastic as the loaf baked, seemed to all but disappear. When I sliced it, there were only a few tiny flecks. Next time, I’ll add more. I’m also wondering about adding chunks of parmigiano in addition to the grated cheese. The parmesan bread in the bakery at Central Market has chunks in it which are so flavorful when you bite into them. That’s for next time. For now, I think the rest of this loaf will find its way into a meal with some soup.

I’m submitting this to Yeastspotting where you’ll find some seriously well-made bread.



24 comments:

  1. Gorgeous bread! Love crumb, so tight and delicious looking. My neighbor brings over bread so she won't eat it. :)

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  2. Fantastic bread. That would go great with a nice bowl of soup right now. =)

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  3. Yum. Parm and bread might be my desert island foods. Beautiful photos, as always.

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  4. LOL - that's my problem with baking bread too :) It looks incredible!

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  5. This combines two of my favorite things, parmigianno cheese and fresh bread. This loaf would have lasted all of an hour in our house - it looks awesome! nicely done.

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  6. mmm.. cheese bread sounds so good! Excellent!

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  7. WOW, well done Lisa. Nothing beat the homemade bread.

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  8. This bread looks amazing! I need to make some bread this weekend, I wish I had time to do this one.

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  9. you're talking to me with this recipe, I love the cheese bread combos - with all your cookbooks,have you checked out The Cheeseboards - fantastic - they make these rolls that would be right up your alley

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  10. Are those two slices for me? It sounds scrumptious with cheese. And I love the rising of your bread.

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  11. mmmmmmm. i loooooove parmesan!!

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  12. I started to feel the stirrings of hunger with the first photo; they turned into full pangs as you described the baking of this bread. Then you mentioned all the things that you might do a tad differently to make it even better next time . . . I am now officially ravenous.

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  13. I would fall off the gluten-free wagon on this one! and the scones...time for some serious walking and then baking :)

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  14. I have the same problem with baking bread. We've been eating sooo much bread in this house lately, but I'm not complaining :)

    I keep wanting to make a sourdough starter too but just haven't had the patience for it. Your bread is gorgeous!

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  15. This is an inspiring post. The finished result looks so tasty with that cheesy (in a good way!) crust! I can almost taste it. Great job!!

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  16. This is impressive! One of my foodie new year's resolutions was to perfect bread. Well, "perfect" it I should say -- because do we ever really perfect anything as complex as bread? I've gotten sidetracked by the world of no-knead bread, and while this is fine, I will never respect it as much as I do a homegrown sourdough. I think you have inspired me to return my attention to the slllloooooowwwwwwow-rise.

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  17. sourdough bread is an acquired taste for me. Yours look fantastic.

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  18. A super delicious & georgous bread, Lisa!! Yummie bread!!

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  19. proofing baskets have been on my wish-list for awhile now, but my family and friends just aren't getting the hint. i hope you obtain yours soon, not that you need them--this bread is fantastic!

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  20. I have not made more bread since my in laws have left. Now seeing your beautiful bread makes my hands itchy again.

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  21. ooooh bread and cheese. yummy. i have a sourdough starter that i keep in the fridge that i'm such a bad mommy to. I need to stop neglecting it. you've inspired me.

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  22. That cheesy crust is calling my name. Seriously well made bread indeed!

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  23. Just looking at your bread, I can see a crust I would love.

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  24. Crust and crumb. I can taste it! Of course I have a vivid imagination.

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