Sunday Baking: Sesame-Swiss Bread
This is a blog about feeding people well--nutritiously, frugally, and with things that taste good. So how can I leave out bread, which is one of the fundamentals of good eating? Sunday also is a good day for baking bread as you probably have more time for letting it rise. Don't worry, though. This isn't a time-consuming, fussy bread I'm offering you. The hands-on and clean-up time are minimal, and the bread is far less costly than the frou frou artisan versions you can buy at the markets. Nonetheless, with only a little effort on your part, you can bake a fragrant, whole-grain loaf of bread that's crusty on the outside and soft on the inside, rich with a swirl of nutty Swiss cheese. A dusting of sesame seeds that toast while the bread bakes also adds crunch and flavor to the top of the loaf. This is a great bread for Sunday dinner. Oh, and if you have any left over, the bread is wonderful for a quick Monday breakfast. Just cut a slice and pop it into the toaster while you get your coffee or tea.
Sesame-Swiss Bread -- Makes 1-2 Loaves
1 cup of milk
1 1/2 cups of flour, divided
2 tablespoons of sugar
2 tablespoons of oil
1/4 ounce of active dry yeast (1 packet)
1 1/2 cups of white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1 cup of shredded Swiss or Gruyere cheese
2-3 tablespoons of sesame seeds
Prepare one or two loaf pans (9 x 5 or 8 x 4-inches) by coating them with non-stick cooking spray. In a large microwave-safe bowl, heat the milk in the microwave for a minute. It should be hot and just starting to steam. Whisk in one cup of the flour, the sugar, and the oil until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the yeast until it dissolves. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the mixture sit for about 30 minutes. It should increase in volume and bubble a bit as the yeast works. With a wooden spoon, stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of flour, 1 cup of the white whole wheat flour, the salt, and onion powder. When the mixture becomes too hard to stir, use your hands to knead the dough in the bowl. Or, if you'd prefer, you can dump it out onto a lightly floured counter to knead (I prefer to minimize cleanup by kneading the dough in the bowl, which works fine). Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup of white whole wheat flour as the dough becomes sticky. After about 5 minutes of kneading, you should have a firm, smooth dough that doesn't stick to the bowl. Lift the dough up, spray the bottom of the bowl with non-stick cooking spray, and put the dough back in the bowl. Spray the top of the dough with the cooking spray, cover the bowl, and let the bread rise for about an hour or until doubled. Punch the dough down to deflate it and separate it into two equal pieces for two small loaves or, if you want one large loaf, leave it as is. Put a large piece of waxed paper on the counter and press the dough out into one or two rectangles--about 6 inches wide and 8-10 inches long for smaller loaves or 8 inches wide and 12 inches long for a large loaf. Sprinkle the dough with the Swiss cheese to about 1/2 inch from each edge. Using the waxed paper to help lift the dough, roll the dough like a jelly roll to enclose the cheese, pushing any strands that escape back into the ends. Pinch the ends of the roll(s) closed, fold the ends under the rest of the dough (enough so your loaves will fit in the pans), and place the loaf or loaves, seam side down, into the prepared pan(s). Moisten the top of the loaf or loaves with a bit of water on your fingers and sprinkle on the sesame seeds evenly, pressing them into the dough just a bit. Let the dough rise for about 30-45 minutes or until about doubled, preheating the oven to 350 degrees near the end of the rising time. Bake the large loaf for 30-40 minutes and the small loaves for 25-30 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.