Thursday, March 27, 2008

Let Them Eat Bread

Fly Lady says some people are born organized. I'm one of the others. I have to write down a schedule on a piece of paper in order to be organized. But then I lose the piece of paper.

Recently I got all ambitious in the kitchen and decided to try three new recipes for dinner. Familiar recipes are no problem because I know about how long they'll take, but a new recipe can be loaded with pitfalls for the unwary. Phrases like "let the batter rest in the refrigerator overnight" or "let the dough rise again for 2 hours" play merry havoc with my attempts to get a meal to the table before bedtime. To attempt three new recipes for the same meal was just foolhardy.

The first one to come out of the oven was dessert. Well, that fits in well with my life motto - "Eat dessert first. Life's uncertain." That will probably go on my tombstone.

Next into the oven was the bread. While it was baking I turned to the "easiest" of the recipes, meatloaf. It was a recipe my daughter had brought home from her church group, raving about, and saying I needed to make it. It involved mixing up a lot of meat (3 lbs), patting it a jelly roll pan, then layering on basil leaves, proscuitto, cheese, and then rolling the whole thing up like a jelly roll. Easy enough at first glance, but the part I didn't read was the cook time. It took forever to cook. By the time it got to the oven we were already gnawing at our sleeves with hunger.

Then there was the bread I'd just pulled out of the oven. The wonderful aroma of fresh warm bread, mixed with the tang of the oozy, melted gruyere cheese was irresistible. We had glasses of wine with bread for dinner. By the time the meatloaf was done cooking we were so stuffed with fluffy slices of cheesy bread we had no room left for the meatloaf. All 4 lbs of the meatlog went into the refrigerator. But I'm not complaining. The bread made a fabulous dinner. And there was dessert.

Cheesy French Braid
adapted from Betty Crocker's International Cookbook

1 package active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 deg. F)
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup butter, softened
3-1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
6 oz Swiss or Gruyere cheese, diced (about 1-1/2 cups)
Vegetable oil
1 egg yolk
2 Tbsp water

Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl. Stir in sugar, salt, eggs, butter, and 2 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to make the dough easy to handle.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up. Cover; let rise in warm place until doubled, 1 to 2 hours. The dough is ready if an indentation remains when you poke it.

Punch down dough. Turn dough onto counter, gently spreading into square. Sprinkle the cheese over the dough and knead it in until it's well distributed. Divide into 3 equal parts. Roll each part into a rope, 15 inches long. Place the ropes together on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Braid the ropes gently and loosely, being careful not to stretch. Pinch the ends together on each end; tuck under securely. Brush lightly with oil. Let rise until doubled, 40 to 50 minutes.

Heat oven to 375 deg. F and position oven rack below center of oven. Beat egg yolk and 2 Tbsp water slightly; brush over braid. Place in oven and bake until braid sounds hollow when tapped, 25 to 30 minutes. (If braid is browning too quickly, cover loosely with a tent of aluminum foil.)


30 comments:

Chelsea said...

Cheesy bread is totally my kind of meal; though I would sub beer for the wine.

Meatloaf always takes forever. Maybe that is why I hadn't eaten it until this past year.

Sarah said...

That bread looks amazing! I haven't had cheesy bread for a while...you have inspired me to make some!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I'm sure we're twins somehow Lynn. I swear cookbooks are written where all those directions about overnight and prepare the day ahead only appear after my eyes have rolled over them five times.
I guess if you left any bread leftover, you'll be having wonderful meatloaf sandwiches.
Maybe it's something in the air because any hint of organization is no longer with me especially in the evening.
The bread looks divine!! I'll take cheese any day or night.

Melinda said...

Bread,cheese,dessert. And tomorrow's dinner already done a day early. What's the problem?
Pretty braided bread, Lynn.

Peabody said...

I am one of the "others" too. :)
I could totally just eat bread as dinner....especially one filled with Gruyere.
BTW...did you get snow?

Melanie said...

There is no better combination than cheese and bread. Definitely worth forfeiting the meatloaf for - this looks fantastic!

katiez said...

Sounds like a perfect dinner to me!
As to the lists....don't talk to me about lists. I make lists of my lists. I have post-it notes everywhere.... I keep moving them, then they quit sticking...
Did you know that you can put post-it notes on your computer? No, not the real ones...virtual ones....
Must make a note

Jessy and her dog Winnie said...

Nice bread!

Deborah said...

I could totally just eat this bread for dinner!

Baking Soda said...

Raises hand from the back of the classroom: I'm one of the others too!
Love the braid, tomorrows dinner sounds goood!

Baking Soda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said...

Yum! Bread AND cheese? I could honestly eat nothing but bread my whole life & be ok!

Oh, and I have post-it notes on my computer (the virtual ones as katiez mentioned). I haven't looked at any of them in months! Whoops, seemed like a great fix. :)

VeggieGirl said...

Although I WAS "born organized," I too need a list in order to make sure that I get everything done; haha, and I too feel weary with recipes that say "let dough refrigerate overnight" and other similar phrases :0D

that French Braid loaf looks divine, Lynn - yum!

Vicarious Foodie said...

This bread looks absolutely gorgeous. And bread and wine is my idea of a fabulous dinner.

Aimée said...

I can't describe how yummy this bread looks! I am going through baking withdrawal. Maybe I CAN breastfeed and knead at the same time. Must.Bake.Soon.

LyB said...

Oh Lynn, I do the same thing all the time! And every time I tell myself next time I'll be more organized! At least you had wine with that gorgeous loaf of bread, not a bad dinner at all in my opinion!

Kevin said...

That bread looks really good. Great job with the braids! I like the sound of the cheese in bread.

I very often miss the marinate foe x hours or let sit for x hours and then end up eating really late as well. I need to read the recipes more closely before hand.

Gretchen Noelle said...

This bread looks just delicious! I need to start playing with other flavors in the breads I am doing. This may be one. Yum!

Tartelette said...

I am one of the others too...I need lists and I have one big appointment book with different colors for different jobs. Being freelance as its advantages but with my scattered brain I have to be extra careful. I love the bread! I bet the whole dinner was wonderful!

Gigi said...

Lynn, your bread always looks to die for. I've said it once and I'll say it again ...I'd follow anywhere for a hunk that bread!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Lynn, I'd be more than glad to have this bread for lunch or dinner. It looks absolutely beautiful!!!

Culinary Cowgirl said...

Lovely bread...I am going to have to make it for my cheese-loving husband! And I hear ya about being "the other type"...I'm one of those too :)

Dee Light said...

That bread looks and sounds so good!! Your photos are great!!

And I hear ya on the "let rest over night..." Those kinds of things sneek up on me too. Organized I am not.

kate said...

i wish i could get good at bread!

RecipeGirl said...

Did you say oozy, melted Gruyere cheese??? That gets me. YUM!

Glenna said...

Mmmm...looks wonderful and I just happen to have that cheese in the fridge...yay for us for dinner tomorrow!

Chuck said...

Lynn, your Cheesy French Bread looks amazing. Gruyere cheese has to be one of my favorite cheeses to put in bread. Well done!

Melanie C. said...

Mmm this bread looks amazingly delish! Two of my favorite things--bread and cheese!!

Marcia said...

Amazing!

Anonymous said...

I have been using this recipe for a couple of years now and nothing beats it for taste! Try some roast beef sandwiches with this bread - absolutely amazing!