Bread is the food of life, and I certainly LOVE my breads. All kinds of breads. I could easily live on bread alone, if there was enough butter of course. Not only do I love eating breads, but a close second is making all different kinds of breads too. My latest bread making adventure came in the form of a cheesy, peppery wreath.
Like with so many good bread recipes, this was a simple recipe, with simple ingredients. The secret to making good breads though, is patience. The dough needs to rise before it can be baked. So make sure you have the time to put into it and let your dough rise at its own pace before making it.
The recipe called for Parmigiano cheese, but at the time I was making it, I didn’t think I had any. I did have Monterey Jack though, which worked just fine. And, of course AFTER my bread was made, I discovered I DID have Parmigiano cheese. Lots of it too. Anyway, my point is, use what what you have and try something different.
Cheese and Pepper Wreath
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water (105-115* F)
4 1/2 tsp active dry yeast, or 2 packages
2 TBSP sugar
1 1/2 tsp black pepper, plus more for sprinkling on top
1 tsp salt
3 1/2-4 1/2 cups flour
1 TBSP fresh sage, chopped fine, optional
1 cup cheese
egg white for brushing on top
Combine the flour, cheese, sage, salt and pepper together and mix well. The amount of flour is going to vary depending on where you are. Start with 3 1/2 cups and add more later if needed. I only needed the 3 1/2 cups, and the dough was nice and soft.
Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water and gently mix together. Add the sugar. Let set for about 5-10 minutes, or until it becomes frothy.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the egg and the yeast mixtures. Start from the center and work your way out, and incorporate the flour mixture with the egg and yeast mixture.
Keep working at it until everything is combined and forms into a soft dough.
Add the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead it all together until it forms into a ball and the surface is smooth and elastic.
Lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough into the bowl. Cover and let rest for about 45 minutes, or until it doubles in size.
When the dough is ready, divide into 3 equal portions and roll out into long ropes, about 28 inches long.
Then carefully braid the bread strands together.
Carefully mold the braided dough into a round wreath and connect the loose ends together. Cover and let rise again for an additional 40 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375* F or 200*C.
Once the dough has risen again, brush it with the egg whites and sprinkle black pepper all over the dough.
Bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown. If you like, you can spread some melted butter on top of the bread immediately after removing it from the oven. This makes it even more flavorful and moist. Allow it to cool for a bit, and then enjoy. I love the peppery finish to this bread.
I served it with some ham and asparagus carbonara Pasta Carbonara with Ham and Vegetables and a cool, crisp white wine on the side. DELICIOUS!
Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.