This rather unusual bread is delicate and moist, with an intriguing cheese bouquet and flavor. It is ideal for sandwiches, it toasts extremely well, and it makes excellent crumbs when a cheese-flavored topping for certain dishes is called for. You may, of course, combine the crumbs with a little additional grated Parmesan cheese.
- 1 package active dry yeast or one ½-ounce cake compressed yeast
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1¾ cups warm water (100° to 115°, approximately)
- 5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon salt, or slightly more to taste
- ½ stick (¼ cup) softened butter
- 1 teaspoon Tabasco
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, or slightly more to taste
- ¾ cup shredded Gruyère or Swiss Emmenthaler cheese
Dissolve the yeast with the sugar in ¼ cup of the warm water and allow to proof. In a large bowl, mix 5 cups of flour and the salt. Make a well in the center and add the remaining 1½ cups warm water, the butter, the Tabasco, and the yeast mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula or with your floured hands until the dough is well amalgamated. Turn out on a heavily floured board (use about ½ cup flour) and knead for 10 to 12 minutes or until the dough is smooth, elastic, and rather satiny in texture and all the flour on the board is absorbed; add flour if you need it. Place the dough in a buttered or oiled bowl and turn to coat on all sides. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, 1½ to 2 hours or slightly more.
Punch down the dough, turn it out on a lightly floured board, and knead in the cheeses. When thoroughly blended, cut the dough in half and let rest for 10 minutes, then roll out each half into a rectangle about 11× 6 inches and let rest for 2 or 3 minutes more. Roll each rectangle up, pinching the edges as you do so, and tucking in the ends so that the loaf measures about 4½ × 7½ inches (see page 32). Place the dough in two well-buttered 8× 4× 2-inch tins, cover, and let rise in a warm spot until the bread has reached the top of the tin or slightly higher, or has more or less doubled in size.
Bake on the center of the middle rack in a preheated 375° oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until the loaves sound hollow when removed from the tins and rapped with the knuckles on both top and bottom. Bake directly on the oven rack, without the tins, for a few minutes to firm the crust. Cool the bread on racks before slicing.
Instead of the butter, use 1/3 cup peanut oil or olive oil. Also use oil for the baking tins.
Use fresh Parmesan or Romano only–a little over a cup–or use a mixture of the two.
Use shredded sharp Cheddar instead of the Gruyere cheese.
Bake as one loaf in a 10 × 4½ × 3-inch pan, which will make a thicker, more concentrated loaf and will take slightly longer to bake.