To get a bread that's full of flavor, you need to start with sourdough, but the process needn't be difficult. In fact, you can mix up most of the ingredients in the morning, go on your merry way, and come back and finish the bread in the afternoon. This Cheesy-Dill Bread begins with a sourdough culture, which provides plenty of tang. After the basic bread mixture has parked on the counter for much of the day, you add a little more flour and two types of sharp cheddar cheese--cubed and grated. The two cheeses provide plenty of cheese flavor as well as little pockets of cheese within the bread. I use fresh dill in my bread, which provides subtle flavor, but you can also use dried dill, if that's all you have on hand. The bread bakes up with a golden-brown crust that's crisp rather than hard and tooth-shattering. The crumb is tight and soft and tangy with bits of cheese and dill. Although you can eat the bread warm from the oven--oozing cheesy pockets--it's best to let the bread cool completely and then reheat slices of the bread. The Cheesy-Dill Bread is wonderful with soups. The bread also makes a simple, fast breakfast on busy mornings. Just pop a slice or two in the toaster while you make your coffee. No butter or avocado needed.
Sourdough Cheesy-Dill Bread -- Makes 1 Loaf
1 cup of sourdough starter or discard
2 tablespoons of canola oil
1 large egg
1/2 cup of low-fat milk
1 cup of white whole-wheat flour
In a large bowl, combine the ingredients listed above and stir the mixture well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for about six hours or until about doubled in volume. Stir the dough down and add:
1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh dill (or 1 teaspoon of dried dill weed)
Stir the mixture well (it will be hard), then flour the counter or a piece of parchment, dump the dough onto the counter/parchment, and gradually knead in about 1/4 more all-purpose flour. The dough should be slightly tacky, not moist. Knead in:
1/2 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese cubes
The easiest way to incorporate the cheese is to flatten out the dough into a rectangle, sprinkle some of the cheese across the top of the dough and then fold the dough in half. Flatten the dough again, sprinkle on more cheese, fold the dough again, and repeat the process until the cheese is fully incorporated. Shape the dough into a loaf and place it in a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated on the inside with non-stick cooking spray. Using a sharp knife, cut four or five slashes across the top of the loaf. Spritz the top of the loaf with non-stick cooking spray and cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until it just barely crests the top of the pan--about an hour or two, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and bake the loaf for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Let the bread cool for a few minutes in the pan, then remove it to cool completely.