Monday, December 12, 2011

Transform Your Bread Dough into Something Gooey! {Recipe... Kinda}

Yesterday, I made beef stew in the crock pot. Once the smell of the stew drifted into the front room and into my nostrils, I started daydreaming about eating it. In this daydream, I wasn't just eating that stew. It was accompanied by some very gooey cheesy bread and followed up with even gooier apple cinnamon bread. So, I tried to figure out how to move this vision from my mind to my plate. I could have made a pizza dough for the cheesy bread and a sweet dough for the cinnamon apple bread, but that means LOTS of measuring and even more dishes. So, I decided to make one of my rather bland bread recipes, split it in half, and sweeten up one part and add salt and herbs to the other.

Here's the base dough recipe that I used:
  • 3 Tb. Warm water
  • 2 1/4 Tb. Yeast (one packet)
  • 1 c. Milk
  • 5 Tb. Unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
  • 3 Tb. Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt (if you don't have it, use just 1/2 tsp. table salt)
  • 1 Lg. egg
  • 2 c. + 1 1/2 c. All-purpose flour
  1. Measure warm water (105 degrees F) into your mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast onto the water and set aside.
  2. Mix milk, butter, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan. Heat on medium low, stirring, just until butter has nearly melted. Let cool to warm (105 degrees F.) I have a kitchen thermometer that I just pop into the pan. Every couple of minutes, I'll stir the milk to help it cool and then check the temperature. It's not necessary, though. Just poke your finger into the milk once in a while. It should just barely feel warm. Do not try to rush this - yeast dies at high temperatures. In fact, it's better if you use it too cool than too hot. If it's cold, it'll just take a little longer for the dough to rise - no harm done!
  3. Once it's cooled, lightly beat the egg into the milk mixture.
  4. Add the milk to the yeast and mix.
  5. Add the first 2 c. of lour to the yeast/milk mixture and stir well. Slowly, about 1/2 c. at a time, add the remaining 1 1/2 c. flour, stirring after every addition.
  6. When the dough comes together, don't mess up your counter! I knead the dough right in the mixing bowl for about 5 minutes. You can stop kneading it when it no longer sticks to everything and is stretchy.
  7. Oil a second bowl with vegetable oil (about 1 - 2 Tbsp.), you can use just about any oil, just remember that the flavor may transfer to the bread! Place dough into bowl and flip it around until it's coated in oil. Put a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap over the bowl, then cover with a kitchen towel.
  8. Find a warm place and set the bowl there. Let the dough rise until double, about 1 - 1 1/2 hours. *You can also put the dough into the fridge overnight. It'll still rise, it'll just take much longer. You'll need to pull it out of the refrigerator about 1/2 hour or so before making the breads.
*I find that the oven is a good, safe place to let my dough rise. If it's particularly cold in the kitchen, I'll turn the oven to 200 degrees F for a few minutes, then open the door to let it cool down some before putting the dough in to rise.

From here to the end of this post, I don't have any real measurements. I just guessed. I know that I should have added a little more salt to the cheesy bread and apples to the apple cinnamon bread.

Gooey Cheesy Bread
Split risen dough in half. Set one half of the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle about 1 tsp. oregano, 1 1/2 tsp. basil, 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt, 1/2 tsp. rosemary, and 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. powdered garlic on the dough. Fold the dough over the herbs and start kneading. Knead for about 5 minutes, until all of the ingredients are mixed in pretty evenly.

Roll dough to about 1/2" thick. I actually just rolled it to roughly the size of my baking sheet! Place the rolled dough onto a lightly greased baking sheet (I admit it: I use Pam.) You can also skip greasing the sheet by sprinkling some corn meal onto the baking sheet. Put the dough somewhere warm for about 45 minutes to rise.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. As the oven's heating, sprinkle cheese and any toppings you'd like over the dough. For this one, I used sharp cheddar, a little more garlic powder, and some cut-up pieces of salami that I found in the refrigerator drawer. Then, I cut a few chunks of mozzarella cheese and distributed them all over. Drizzle the whole thing lightly with olive oil or a little melted butter. Bake for about 15 minutes, checking after 10 minutes. You'll know it's done when the top is all bubbly and gooey-looking! Let cool for about 10 minutes before attempting to cut or the cheese will just melt back together. This is really good dipped in beef stew, ranch dressing, and leftover spaghetti sauce!

Cinnamon Apple Bread
As with the cheesy bread, place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle the dough with 1 - 2 Tbsp. sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Knead until the ingredients are distributed. Roll to about 1/2" thick and transfer to a greased baking sheet (you can use corn meal for this one, too, if you prefer.) Let rise for 45 minutes.

Brush the dough with melted butter. Peel and cut 2-3 apples, depending on the size, (tart ones like Granny Smith or Rome are best) into 1/8" thick slices. Distribute apples onto dough evenly. Sprinkle with 1 - 2 tsp. cinnamon and 1/2 tsp. ground cloves. You can add any other spices you like, such as nutmeg or allspice. Sprinkle about 1/2c. UN-packed brown sugar (light or dark) over the apples. Then, drizzle a little honey over that. Finally, melt 2 Tb. unsalted butter and drizzle that over the apples. Bake in  375 degree F oven for 15 - 20 minutes, until brown and bubbly.

While the bread is cooling, mix 2 Tb. melted butter, 1/2 c. powdered sugar, and 1 - 2 Tb. milk, half-and-half, or heavy cream in a small bowl. Drizzle over apples, then let cool for about 15 minutes before cutting.

Do you have any suggestions for toppings for these breads? 
It was so easy to do and my family loved them so much that I know I'll be doing it again... often. 
I'm thinking that a spinach/artichoke/Parmesan cheesy bread might be good. 
And I'm trying to figure out how I'd do a pumpkin version of the sweet bread.