Wednesday, November 9, 2011

can't smell the deliciousness: chopped bread

Had the day off yesterday and headed out for some errands with my husband.  While in the new and improved Marsh Marketplace on Michigan Road we thoroughly enjoyed samples of "chopped bread", savory free-form "loaves" of cheesy goodness not unlike monkey/pull-apart bread.  Knew I could create a reasonable (and probably healthier) facsimile in my bread maker and oven.  Decided to use my base foccacia recipe, let it rise, punch it down, knead in the flavorings, chop and pile on a baking sheet to rise again before baking in a hot oven.  Worked like a charm.  Made two loaves:  Italian herb with Mozzarella cheese and jalapeno with sharp cheddar cheese.

If you don't have a bread machine you can mix the ingredients by hand or in a stand mixer with a dough hook followed by a good 8-10 minute knead before letting in a rise in an oiled bowl in a warm spot covered with a tea towel.  Give yourself 3 hours start to finish.  I took a hunk of my Italian herb with Mozzarella cheese loaf to go along with my fire-roasted tomato soup (standard working lunch fare) and heated it up in the microwave.  I have a lovely head cold and couldn't smell the deliciousness, but everyone who came in the back room wanted to know what smelled so good.  If it didn't have my germs all over it, I'd have been happy to share.  So instead, before I have a quick dinner and a long evening of nothingness catching up on the DVR viewing and hoping to breathe through my nose again I thought I'd post the recipe.

Happy baking!  Enjoy the goodness from your oven.  I'll just be here having some kind of hot and spicy soup looking for the miracle cure to the common cold (which may or may not be a sinus infection requiring drugs so I can power through the next week and a half preparing for the big 50th birthday tailgate for Greg).  Thank goodness I can go to work in basically my jammies.  Love that luon!


Italian herb and Mozzarella cheese chopped bread just out of the oven

jalapeno and sharp cheddar cheese chopped bread hot out of the oven

Chopped Bread

foccacia bread dough

3/4 C lukewarm water (80-90 degrees, hot tap water)
1 1/2 T olive oli
1 tsp salt
2 C bread flour (up to 1/4 C more for a workable dough)
1 tsp active dry yeast

flavorings/add-ins

2 T Italian herb blend, 1 T olive oil, 1/2 C shredded Mozarella cheese or other grated/shredded cheeses (Asiago, Parmesan, Romano) optional:  chopped olives, sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped artichoke hearts

1/2 C drained jalapeno pepper slices, coarsely chopped, 1 T olive oil, 1/2 C shredded sharp cheddar (monterey jack, mild cheddar or Mexican blend cheeses would be yummy too)

Place all foccacia dough ingredients in pan of bread machine and run "dough" cycle (mine takes about 90 minutes to mix, knead and rise).

Alternately, mix all ingredients in bowl of stand mixer with dough hook adding flour if necessary and kneading for 5-7 minutes or until smooth.  Or go old school and mix ingredients by hand and knead for 8-10 minutes adding flour if necessary until dough is smooth and elastic.  Place dough in oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel to let rise in a warm draft-free place for about an hour.  I often turn my oven on to preheat until it reaches about 100 degrees and then turn it off and let the dough rise with the door open so it's warm, but not hot.

Punch down dough, however you got to this point, and let rest 10 minutes.  Lightly flour a kneading surface (mat, cloth or board) and knead in flavorings/add-ins until evenly distributed throughout the dough.  It's tough to knead everything in thoroughly.  Roughly kneaded in is rustic and fine.  You can add more olive oil if you like.  This is where my recipe really differs from the grocery version.  Their bread is very buttery.  Yummy, but not necessary.  Use a sharp chef's knife or bench cutter and chop dough into 1-inch pieces more or less.  Lightly brush baking sheet with olive oil and pile up chopped pieces of bread into a loaf-shaped mound of more or less equal height.  Cover with a tea towel an let rise again for 40 minutes to an hour.

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Bake risen "chopped bread" in hot oven for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned.

The Italian herb bread was delicious dipped in warm marinara.

Note:  I talk tea towel often.  Tea towels are woven towels without terry loops.  The kind you might have to iron, but that's just silly.

foccacia ingredients (I always use 1/3 white whole wheat flour, it's hiding back there)

I made a two-pound batch of dough so I'm splitting it with my bench scraper

getting ready to knead (please note my hands and the paint splatter on a knuckle,
in the middle of a few walls in the basement)

good herbs and cheese mixed in

chopping dough

piled up on the baking sheet and ready for the second rise

sharp cheddar and jalepenos

ready for the second rise

ready for the oven!
Thanks to guest photographer, Kelly who came home from Purdue for just one night to bake with me!  Sara, I know you would too if you could.   Maybe we should just move to North Carolina next.  It's cold and blustery here tonight and sounding like a great idea!

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