Monday, February 18, 2013

Herb and cheese pull apart bread

To bake good bread has been a dream of mine for  a while now and so, when Aparna who blogs at My Diverse Kitchen and is an accomplished baker called for people to join her in baking a bread a month through this year, I did so without thinking twice about it. The very first bread that our group which is called We Knead to Bake has baked is a herb and cheese pull apart bread. Aparna gave us the basic recipe and the freedom to alter the ingredients as per our taste. I am glad that I didn't do much altering and that the bread proved to be quite a hit at home.

 What you need: 
For the Dough: 
Warm milk - 1/2 cup
Sugar - 1 tsp
Instant yeast - 1 tbsp
All-purpose flour - 3 cups
Salt - 1 tsp
Butter, soft at room temperature  - 25 gms which is approx 2 tbsp
Garlic paste - from 7 or 8 cloves of garlic
Milk - 3/4 cup + a couple of tbsp to brush over the bread
For the Filling:
Melted butter - 1 to 1.5 tbsp
Finely chopped corrainder/cilantro - a handful
Crushed ajwain/omam/caraway seeds - 1 tbsp

Grated cheddar cheese - 1/2 cup (I used cheese that was flavoured with pepper....if using plain cheese, you could add crushed pepper to the filling if desired)


In a small bowl, mix the sugar, instant yeast and the 1/2 cup of warm milk. To this, add the flour, salt, softened butter and garlic paste. Mix well and knead to a smooth, pliable dough.

Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a well-oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat it completely with oil. Cover and let it rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until almost double in volume.
Dust your work surface lightly with flour. Deflate the dough, shape it into a square and roll the dough out into a larger square that is about 12’ by 12”. Brush the surface of the square with the melted butter.
Evenly sprinkle the chopped corrainder, ajwain and then the grated cheese. Gently run a rolling pin over the topping to ensure that it doesn't fall off later when you are stacking the bread.
Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, slice the dough from top to bottom into 6 long and even strips.
Lay each strip on top of the next, with the topping facing upwards, until you have a stack of the strips
You can put the 2 strips cut from the sides in the middle of the stack so it looks neater. Usinga pastry scraper or a sharp knife, cut straight down through the stack dividing it into 6 equal pieces (6 square stacks).
The stacking of strips is what I was not able to do, mainly I think, due to the fact that I had not dusted my work surface with enough flour and the strips were at risk of getting torn. So I decided to roll the strips from one end to the other, making six humongous rolls. I then arranged these rolls side by side in a round baking pan.

Cover the pan with a moist towel and allow the dough to rise further for an hour.
Lightly brush some milk over the top of the rolls. Bake the dough at 180C (350F) for about 30 to 40 minutes until it is done and the top is golden brown.

Taste wise, this is a wonderful bread, and paired with soup, makes for a filling meal. I will definitely be baking this again, and hopefully, will get the stacking part right this time so that the bread will look as good as it tastes.