Spicy Cheese Bread

There’s a place in town that does the most amazing spicy cheese bread. If you get to the Farmer’s Market at the right time, you can get it still warm and then walk around the rest of the square while devouring it in chunks. It’s kind of locally famous, and absolutely deserves that fame. But getting it involves going all the way downtown and having cash at ass o’clock in the morning, so I wanted to come up with some kind of facsimile.

Ingredients:

  • frozen bread dough
  • cheddar cheese
  • red chili pepper flakes

Thaw the bread dough and roll it out, then cover it in shredded cheese. Just cover it. Fold it over and roll it again, then add more cheese – plus red pepper. Add cheese until the dough can’t hold more cheese, then shape the loaf however – braid it, shove it in a loaf pan, cut it into sixths and make balls to bake them into buns. Put more cheese on top. Let that rise for twenty minutes or half an hour, then bake at 350°F for 22-25 minutes.

Eat it still warm if at all possible, either alone or with butter. Try not to cry at the perfect combination of cheese and chili pepper.

Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Bread

IMG_1051I really love making bread from frozen bread dough. It’s deeply satisfying – like, I don’t actually know what I’m doing with rising times or yeast or leavening, but I can assemble things and stick them in the oven like a boss.

Ingredients:

  • bread dough for one loaf
  • bar of dark chocolate
  • cinnamon
  • water

I have a very non-stick non-stick pan, so I didn’t actually bother greasing it. Roll out the dough – heck, roll it out directly in the pan, if you want, so you’re dirtying fewer things. It should be pretty thin and spread out. Chop up your chocolate bar into bitty chunks (or use chocolate chips) and spread those along the middle. You want roughly thirds – so plain dough, chocolate, plain dough. Shake cinnamon over it generously: you want it to have a little spice as well as flavor.

Cut along the edges roughly an inch and a half apart, then use those pieces to braid over top of the chocolate. Now let it rise for twenty minutes, and preheat your oven to 350°F. Right before you put the bread in, use your favorite method of glaze – I just get my hands real wet and run them over the top. Bake for 22-24 minutes, then remove from the oven.

It’s really amazing still warm, and also delicious toasted the next morning.

Fried Bread

One thing we didn’t have in Russia was a toaster. Which was mostly fine – there was fresh baked stuff to be had everywhere one went, and peanut butter and nutella are just as good on still-warm bread as they are on fresh-toasted. When we encountered a problem was when I picked up a baguette and we didn’t eat it that night: it was kind of stale by the next evening.

But I spent time in England when I was a kid, and full English breakfasts are a memorable cardiac incident. One of the things they traditionally include is fried bread. It’s pretty straightforward – all you need for ingredients is:

  • bread
  • oil

I had leftover oil that the sundried tomatoes had come in, so that was delicious and flavorful. I started the oil heating on medium-high in a frying pan – maybe a third of a cup of it? I’m not sure, but you want a fairly generous layer on the bottom of the pan. I cut the baguette into like inch-thick slices while that was heating. When it was starting to bubble a little in the middle and was quite hot, I arranged the baguette slices in one thin layer around the bottom of the pan. Fry those for a couple of minutes, then flip them – hopefully you’ll have enough oil in the pan that there’ll be some left for the second side. You want each side a little crispy, which should only take a few minutes each side. If you flip too early, though, you can always flip back later. When they’re crunchy, remove from heat and serve!

These do not store well, but they’re a fast and fantastic way to make a snack out of bread that also does not store well.

Bread

Ingredients:

  • Frozen bread dough
    Bread

    Attempt 1, with individual ropes

    bread

    Attempt 2, with cheating

  • butter
  • rosemary
  • garlic
  • cheese
  • sea salt

Let the dough rise according to package directions before you start – mine said four hours on the counter. Then I made the filling – the first one, I melted butter in a small dish and added a couple teaspoons of garlic, a ton of rosemary, and a handful of shredded cheese.

I then proceeded to cut the dough into three individual chunks and roll them with my hands into ropes. When I had three ropes about the same length, I rolled them out, then put some of the butter garlic mix in the middle, then tried to pinch it back into a rope with stuff in the middle. Then I braided the three ropes together. It was – it didn’t work out that pretty, though it was delicious. More cheese went on top, and it went in the 350°F oven for 22 minutes, which was the longer end of the package directions for the dough.

For the second attempt, I rolled out the dough all in one piece, then filled the middle with garlic, rosemary, and fresh-grated parmesan. Then I cut an equal number of slits in each side and did the sort of pretend-braiding thing you can see above. I did a wash with melted butter, then sprinkled sea salt on top and stuck it in the oven for 22 minutes again. That one worked out significantly easier to slice.