Makes 4 loaves
While the master recipe for Hertzberg and François's white bread may be stored for up to 14 days, this recipe, because of its cheese content, must be used within 7 days. Readers have asked the authors if less yeast can be used in their recipes. They've tested with as little as 1/2 teaspoon yeast per 6 1/2 cups flour with excellent results. The drawback: The bread needs more rest time before baking - about 6 to 12 hours, and up to 2 hours rise time before baking. We baked this bread in a sealed oven on a
|3||cups lukewarm water (85 to 100 degrees)|
|1 1/2||tablespoons instant yeast|
|1 1/2||tablespoons salt|
|1 1/2||tablespoons sugar|
|6 1/2||cups flour|
|1||cup grated cheddar cheese|
|Cornmeal (for dusting)|
|Flour (for sprinkling)|
|1||cup hot water (for the oven)|
1. In a large bowl or food container, mix the water, yeast, salt, and sugar together. Stir in the flour and grated cheese until just combined; you may have to use your hands to incorporate the last bit of flour. Alternately, use a food processor with a dough attachment or a standing mixer with a dough hook to combine ingredients. Do not knead the dough.
2. Cover the container loosely with a towel or plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at room temperature (65 to 75 degrees) for 2 hours or until the dough rises and collapses.
3. The dough is now ready for baking, but it's easier to handle after refrigeration. Refrigerate in a loosely covered container for up to 7 days.
4. When ready to bake, have ready a pizza peel or baking sheet dusted liberally with cornmeal. Sprinkle the dough generously with flour and cut off a 1 pound piece (about the size of a grapefruit) for each loaf. Sprinkle the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom as you rotate the ball in your hands. Place the ball of dough on the pizza peel or baking sheet. Let rise at room temperature for 1 hour (40 minutes if you're using fresh, unrefrigerated dough).
5. Set the oven at 450 degrees. Place a baking stone or baking sheet on the lowest rack and an empty broiler tray on any other shelf that won't interfere with the rising bread.
6. Sprinkle the loaf generously with flour. Using a serrated bread knife, quickly slash a cross or tic-tac-toe pattern across the top of the bread.
7. Slide the loaf of bread off the peel or baking sheet onto the hot pizza stone or baking sheet. Pour 1 cup hot water into the hot broiler tray. Quickly close the oven door.
8. Bake the bread for 25 minutes, or until it looks deeply golden and firm. Smaller or larger loaves will require more or less baking time. Cool on a wire rack before slicing. - Adapted from "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day."