Thursday, September 4, 2014

Sun-dried Tomato and Asiago Cheese Bread!

Last weekend, we celebrated Labor Day with a outdoor bread bake! I am very blessed to have a large Italian-made, ceramic-lined, wood-fired outdoor oven that my father and step-mom totally and completely surprised me with at Christmas many years ago. It's been a family tradition since that time to have several "bakes" throughout the summer, but with my father's illness that just didn't happen this year. In honor of Dad's passing, tho', we couldn't let the summer get by without at least one, so I spent last Sunday/Monday EZ-DOH-ing lots of tasty breads -- and that night,  family and friends feasted!  On the menu was a HUGE salad, along with a Cheddar-cheese bread; a jalapeno/cheddar bread; a sunflower/raisin/flax bread; a traditional long-rise Italian bread and this sun-dried tomato and asiago bread. Everyone had their favorites, but this is the recipe friends asked for. 

Sun-Dried Tomato and Asiago Cheese Bread  
This recipe is easy, but  takes a lot of "resting" time - It can be a little messy to handle at one point, but the taste is ALL worthwhile!!

¼ tsp. Red Star Platinum yeast 
1 ¾ Cup warm water
3 Cups unbleached, all-purpose flour (or bread flour)
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 Cup finely grated asiago cheese
2 tsp. dried basil
½ Cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
                Note: For oil-packed tomatoes: Drain and pat dry before using in the bread.
                           For dehydrated tomatoes: Hydrate tomatoes briefly in warm water and pat dry.

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in the EZ DOH bucket. Let rest 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients and “EZ DOH-it” till well-combined. The mixture will be sticky! Cover the bucket with a plate or plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter for 12-18 hours. Sprinkle a generous amount of flour on a kitchen surface and carefully “pour” dough onto the floured surface and form/pat/push it gently into a ball. Sprinkle with additional flour and let rest for 20 minutes. At this point, because this dough is so “loose”, I like to use some type of form. Usually, I used a double French bread form, lined with baking parchment. Using a VERY sharp knife, or a bench knife, carefully cut the dough in two. Now comes the messy part: With a generous amount of flour and a bench knife, push each dough piece “in” on the sides and lengthen it. Carefully and quickly, pick it up and place it on one of the parchment-lined forms, lengthening it as you lay it in. Repeat with the second piece. (Ta-da- the worst is over!). Lightly sprinkle with flour, cover and let rise 1-2 hrs. Heat the oven to 425 thirty minutes before baking. Bake for 30-45 minutes, until  nicely browned. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. 

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