Warm your winter kitchen and your tummy with layers of soft yeasty homemade bread touting fragrant herbs, brazen amounts of melty cheese and oodles of sultry garlic.
Baby it's COLD outside!! Bone chilling, frost bitten, shaking-in-your-fur-lined-boots cold. Brrrrrr!
Given ol' man winter's frigid blast, I had no option. I'm sorry. Really sorry. For side-tracking you when you're seriously on-target with your January goals. I apologize for tempting you. For pushing you to the very edge of all reason, where you know there's no option but to succumb to warm-from-the-oven, yeasty soft, cheese and herb riddled garlic bread.
Aaaannnnddd.....this loaf goes a step further. This is not your mama's garlic bread. Not the kind where you have to pull open the drawer, find the bread knife and slice off a piece. Nope, not that kind. This is a ridiculously fragrant loaf that the moment it comes out of the oven, beckons insists your fingers pull off a piece right here and now. Effortless.
Go ahead, pop another buttery piece. Forest Grump did.
Seems there was a good dent in our loaf before we even dished out the turkey soup. Might I add, this bread is great with soup. Whether munched on the side or dipped in the barley, veggie and turkey laden, golden rich, heady broth.
Not only that, but it was pretty darn easy, and fun, to make. I started the dough in the breadmaker, then rolled it out, slathered it with garlic-jalapeno butter, sprinkled herbs here and there, sliced the dough, stacked the dough, sliced again, shimmied the stacks into a loaf pan, baked, and voila. The staff of life.
I used cheddar cheese with chopped fresh cilantro and chives. But whether you fancy Monterey Jack, Parmesan, provolone, havarti, gouda.........basil, thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, or, or, or ......any combination will work. We love 'heat', so I added some really finely chopped fresh jalapenos which gave a perfect zing. And, of course, lots of fresh, minced garlic.
So, don't say I didn't warn you about this not being your New Years resolution type recipe. Besides that, I just know you've earned a warm-the-tummy-and-the-soul comfort food treat.
And tomorrow is a new day. Redemption is just one sleep away. Tomorrow, salad.
With warmed up cheese & herb garlic bread! (Hahahaha. Just kidding! There won't be any bread left!)
Which reminds me, here's one more treat for you. Redemption Song.
I just love this version! It gives me goosies.
**Thanks to Pink Parsley food blog for the delicious inspiration and to Joy the Baker, where the whole, scrumptious pull-apart bread thing really got revved up, but with cinnamon sugar. Ohhhhh, I can't wait to make a cinnamony version. Stay tuned.
"A loaf of bread, a jug of wine and thou."
~ Omar Khayyam
CHEESE & HERB PULL-APART GARLIC BREAD - Makes 1 loaf
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast, or 1 package active dry yeast
3 tablespoons sugar
3 generous cups flour
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
4-5 plump garlic cloves, minced
1-2 fresh jalapenos, very finely chopped (optional, for you non-heat seekers)
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup fresh chopped herbs (cilantro, chives, basil, oregano, rosemary, sage, dill, tarragon, parsley)
2 cups grated cheese (I used 'old' cheddar, but any cheese will work)
Freshly ground black pepper
Combine water and milk in a 2 cup measure. Microwave until just steaming. Add 3 tablespoons butter and stir. Let sit until butter melts and mixture cools to lukewarm.
If using a breadmaker: add yeast, sugar, flour, salt and beaten egg, then lukewarm liquids. Hit the dough cycle button.
For the dough, without breadmaker: Pour heated water-milk-butter mixture into bowl of standing mixer. Stir in sugar and yeast and let rest for 5-7 minutes until foamy. Stir in beaten egg. Add flour and salt and mix with a dough hook about 8 minutes. The dough should be silky-ish, not sticky, to the touch. Butter or oil a bowl, transfer dough to bowl, cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until doubled in bulk.
While dough is rising combine softened butter with minced garlic and chopped jalapeno. Set aside.
Punch down the dough and turn onto lightly floured surface. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Roll the dough out into a 12 x 20 inch rectangle. Slather evenly with garlic, jalapeno butter. (oh my!) Sprinkle evenly with chopped herbs and grated cheese. Grind some black pepper over top to taste.
Cut the dough, vertically, into 6 equal sized strips with a sharp knife or pizza cutter.
Stack the strips on top of one another.
Slice the stack into six equal slices once again. You'll have six stacks of six squares.
Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan. (I lined my loaf pan, partially, with overhanging parchment, which worked like a charm. Once the loaf was baked, it lifted right out of the pan.) Turn the pan on it's end, or however it's easiest for you, and stack and shimmy the stacks into the pan.
Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place about 45 minutes or until almost double in bulk.
Preheat oven to 350F. Bake the bread for 40-50 minutes, or until the top is golden-brown and the inside is cooked through. If the top browns too quickly, cover the loaf loosely with foil. I baked my loaf just over 45 minutes and did cover with foil for about the last 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and alow to cool for 10-20 minutes. (Forest Grump, this means you!) Run a knife around the edges, and invert onto serving platter. (or if you used parchment paper, just pull that beauty out using the overhang as handles).
Soul warming comfort, layer on layer. Pull, pop. Repeat.