Fresh, homemade bread is one of my absolute favorite parts of life! There is nothing more satisfying than the smell of bread baking in the oven. And with this recipe, cheese and garlic butter join the fun to make a mouth-watering trio for your taste buds.
Before we get started, let me give you a bit of advice: Working with bread can be either simple or complicated. Which of the two is up to you. I personally think bread is one of the easiest foods to bake. The key to remember is to not force the dough to mold into the exact shape you desire. The more you force the dough, the more the dough fights back. Keep the kneading and rolling playful and to a minimum to ensure the dough will rise and shape the way you want. Think of the entertaining way chefs in a pizza parlor handle the dough. While you don't have to throw it up in the air like they do, keep that playful feel whenever handling any type of bread dough.
To start, combine 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 cup warm water in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle in yeast and let proof for 5-10 minutes or until the yeast foams.
Once yeast has proofed, add salt and, using a dough hook, stir in flour in 1/4 cup increments. (You may have to push the flour off the sides of bowl with a spatula.) Once the flour is incorporated let the mixer knead the dough for about five minutes. At the end of this time the dough should be balled up and smooth with a tacky texture.
Grease the bowl and all sides of the dough with a thin coating of olive oil. It won't take much oil. This is only to keep the dough from clinging to the bowl. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm, cozy place for one hour or until the dough doubles in size. The time may vary depending on the seasons. For instance, my bread tends to take slightly longer to rise in the winter when the outside air temperature is colder than in the summer.
Once the dough has doubled in size, punch the dough back down. Lay the dough out on a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Roll each half into oblong loafs (baguettes) and lay on a baking sheet. I also twist the bread at this point to add a decorative touch, but this is optional. The bread tastes the same, whether it's twisted or smooth.
Cover the bread with the kitchen cloth and let rise for another 30 minutes to an hour. While the dough is rising preheat the oven to 400 F. I've found that the bread rises faster if you lay the baking sheet on top of the stove while the oven preheats. After the loaves have doubled in size, put them in the oven. Reduce the heat to 350 F and bake for 20 minutes.
Pull out the bread and brush on a layer of the melted garlic butter. Bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven a let cool until you can handle the bread with your hands (about 5-10 minutes).
Cut one inch slices of bread about 3/4 of the way through. You don't want to cut the slices completely down or else rest of the butter will run off onto the cooking sheet. Brush remaining garlic butter over the loafs and between the slices.
Cover the top of the loaves with shredded shredded cheese of your choice. I prefer a Monterrey Jack and Colby blend but a sharp cheddar works well too.
Bake another 5 minutes until the cheese is melted. Serve and enjoy!
Prep Time: 1 hr 40 min Cook Time: 35 min Total Time: 2 hr 15 min
Makes Two Loaves
Whether you're looking for a quick weeknight dinner or full course meal for hosting a dinner party, I've got you covered. From healthy eats to cozy comfort foods, you'll find what your taste buds are craving!