There is something magical about the change of seasons - as the leaves turn from green to red, orange and yellow. (That is, until they fall on the ground and need to be raked...)
The cooler temperatures bring relief from the hot blast of summer.
The last produce of the season is some of the best. Apples, squash, pumpkins, all of the root vegetables that are finally unearthed from their summer hiding spots.
The ovens come back on. Standing over the stove stirring a sauce to perfection seems like a good idea again. Spending a few hours in a kitchen with the oven turned up to 425 F no longer feels like torture.
Do you know what the first thing I want to make when the baking bug kicks back in?
I know. I know. Bread from scratch can seem all scary and stuff - frankly, there are still some bread recipes that scare the living daylights out of me; however, if you ever want to dip your toe in the water, here is a nice easy one to start with. As long as your yeast is still healthy, its pretty hard to screw this one up too much. Pinkie swear.
You know what goes great with bread? Cheese. And if you put that cheese inside of the bread, well life is just about perfect.
At this year's International Food Bloggers Conference, Rogue Creamery represented with their wall of blue cheese... I had never heard of Rogue Creamery prior to IFBC, but I have to tell you - I am kind of addicted... Their Blue Heaven cheese powder is a blend of some of their best blue cheeses. The first thing I tried the Blue Heaven powder out was popcorn (obviously...); but once I moved past the popcorn thing, I decided to give it a shot in one of my other favorite cheese spiked products - the aforementioned cheese + bread combo.
Let's do this thing!
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 Tbs instant yeast
3 Tbs olive oil (+ 2-3 Tbs for drizzling in the pan)
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
14 3/4 oz unbleached flour (3 1/2 cups) - Note: I used ~6 oz high gluten flour and 8 3/4 oz unbleached all-purpose to get a chewier bread
1 Tbs Rogue Creamery blue cheese powder (optional, but delicious!)
2 cups (8 oz) cheese, diced or crumbled in 1/2" cubes (I used Gruyere and chevre this time - cheddar is excellent in this bread too)
2 Tbs peeled, chopped garlic (~3-4 cloves, depending on type of garlic used)
2 tsp fresh thyme
Drizzle 2-3 Tbs olive oil in the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking pain.
Stir together water and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer (if using a hand beater, place in the bottom of a large bowl). Let rest five minutes, to give the yeast a chance to get all foamy. (This step is optional if you are confident about your yeast - but if the yeast has been hanging around a while, this step saves you the aggravation of dealing with dough that won't rise).
Add to the yeast mixture the olive oil, salt, flour and cheese powder (if using). Beat at high speed for about one minute, until ingredients are well-combined. (Dough should be somewhat wet and sticky. If it seems dry, so ahead and add a Tbs or two of water.) Add the cheese and garlic - mix just long enough to combine.
Place the dough mixture into the greased baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for about an hour. Dough will get really puffy. If your kitchen is warm - it may take less time (check it at 40 minutes).
Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375F.
When ready, removed the plastic from the rising dough, sprinkle with fresh thyme. Place into the heated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes. Bread should be golden brown.
Remove the pan from the oven. Let the bread cool in the pan for about five minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.
Personally, I like to dig in while its still a bit on the warm side.
This bread is great for making pressed grilled sandwiches on the next day... Just saying.
*Note: recipe is easily halved - just bake in an 8" x 8" pan instead.
Disclaimer: Bloggers attending Foodista's International Food Bloggers Conference were given the opportunity to attend at a discounted cost in exchange for writing a few posts about the conference or its sponsors. Rogue Creamery was one of the sponsors at the conference. I was not monetarily compensated to write this post. The choice of which aspects of the conference to write about and any opinions are totally my own.