One of my favorite things about having started this blog is that I’ve managed to “meet” some pretty cool peeps that also have food blogs. My Google Reader is filled daily with the latest posts from a ton of inspiring and fun food bloggers, and even though I haven’t been doing this that long, I am really pleased to say that I’ve made connections with at least a few of them. It’s always exciting for me when someone I haven’t met in real life comments on my blog- and even more exciting when someone says they want to try one of my recipes!
The recipe I tried this weekend actually came from one of these blogger friends- Joanne from Fifteen Spatulas. If you haven’t checked her blog out yet, you really should. Joanne takes great photos and also comes up with some insanely creative ideas that she lays out in a way that makes them accessible for someone who doesn’t know a mandolin from a potato masher. When I saw this recipe for Parmesan Peppercorn Bread, I couldn’t resist. Believe it or not, you do NOT need a stand mixer or any other kind of machinery to make this bread- and even though I do have a stand mixer, I decided to go it analog and make this bread entirely by hand. (Keep in mind though, this does take about 5 hours to make with all the proofing and rising. More of a weekend kinda recipe!)
This is a dense, flavorful and savory bread that is perfect alongside a delicious dinner, or just on its own, toasted with butter on top. In fact, that’s how I’m enjoying it- as breakfast as I write this post!
Parmesan Peppercorn Bread
- 3 cups bread flour (15 oz by weight)
- 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1.5 cups warm water
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1.5 tbsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 4 oz Parmesan cheese, grated or broken into smaller chunks (try to use authentic parmigiano reggiano)
1. Stir the flour, yeast, salt, water, pepper, and olive oil together in a large bowl until well combined. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for two hours.
2. Flour your countertop with 1 tbsp flour, turn the dough out, and sprinkle the top with another tbsp of flour. Knead for 2 minutes by hand (after that it will start to get too sticky, and we don’t want to add too much flour to the dough, since it will change the identity of the bread). Place the dough back into the bowl, and let it rest for another hour, again covered with plastic.
(According to Joanne, kneading develops gluten, which will make up a big web in the bread under which the bread will be able to hold the yeast bubbles as the loaf expands. Kneading also redistributes the yeast, which bunches up by nature. Bet you didn’t think you’d get a science lesson, too!)
3. Knead the parmesan into the bread, keeping your hands wet at all times so the dough doesn’t stick to you. Knead the dough enough to distribute the parmesan evenly, about 2 minutes. Let it rise for an hour (this is the final rise- you’re almost there!).
4. You can bake your bread one of two ways:
a) 20 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Stick a dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot in the oven to heat up. Once the oven reaches 450, place your dough into the pot, cover with a lid, and bake for 30 minutes. Take the lid off, and bake for 15 more minutes, until the bread reaches 200 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. Cool on a wire rack.
b) Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Put a sheet pan filled with boiling water on the bottom shelf of your oven, and spray the walls of your oven with water. Bake the bread on a sheet pan for 20-25 minutes, until the bread reaches 200 degrees F. Cool on a wire rack, and slather with salted whipped butter.
Thank you so much to Joanne for sharing this recipe- and for answering my questions on her original post!
If you’ve never made bread before- I swear, this is pretty idiot-proof, and totally worth the time it takes!