I like to think I make a mean loaf of bread; This one is no pansy. The Shiraz adds complexity, and the smoked cheddar nicely offsets the sweetness of the maple. The original recipe in Beautiful Breads & Fabulous Fillings calls for Merlot and Monterey Jack cheese. It was weak and the technique was a bit flawed. In all, the original recipe works fine, but I like how sultry the smoked cheddar makes this loaf. My recipe and technique changes are below.
Ingredients – for 2 loaves
1 Tbsp Yeast
2 c warm milk
2 c warm Merlot or Shiraz (Cheap tastes great. Offset your savings here with the next ingredient)
3/4 c plus 2 Tbsp maple syrup (real tastes WAY better)
1 stick of butter, melted
9 c (ish) bread flour (You will need more flour, but the original recipe called for half and half)
3/4 c packed brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp salt
1 c smoked cheddar cheese
1. Dissolve the yeast in the milk in a large bowl. Let them party until things get foamy on top (5 min). Add the wine, all but 2 Tbsp of syrup, and the butter.
2. Here, they tell you to combine all the dry ingredients at the same time. I would say to do about 1/2 the flour and all of the other dry ingredients. Mix well with a whisk, flat beater, or sift them together. Add the wet to the dry. Slowly add reserve flour, switching to a dough hook if you’re using a mixer. Add flour until the dough cleans the side and is moist but not sticky. I like to take it out during the sticky stage so I can kneed it by hand while adding more flour. I find my bread has better texture that way.
3. Take out the dough (if you haven’t already) and kneed, by hand, for a few minutes. Put it in an oiled bowl, cover it with an oiled plastic wrap, and let it rise until doubled – about an hour. *Fun tip: Don’t know what to do with all of those shower caps you liberate from hotel rooms? They make great covers for rising dough!
4. Now the fun part! Punch that dough down! Separate the dough in separate but equal portions (here it’s ok to have some portions more equal than others… )
5. Grease up your loaf pans!
6. Here, I significantly altered the instructions. Flatten the dough in a rectangle, maybe 12 by 5 inches. Brush a tablespoon of the leftover maple syrup over the surface, leaving at least a 1/2 inch around the boarder. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of your cheese of choice – smoked cheddar, in my case – over the maple. Roll it up length-wise, closing seams. Plop it in the pan, seams down. Repeat on the second loaf.
7. Let the pans hang out in a warm place for about an hour to rise.
8. 20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake the loaves for about 1 hour.
9. The best way to test a loaf for doneness, is to (carefully) take the loaf out of the pan and tap the bottom. If it’s done, it’ll sound hollow. It’ll be hot, so wear your protective gear accordingly. The syrup might leak out a bit. If so, just run a knife along the edge of the pan to loosen it. If it’s not done (sounds leaden), pop it back in for a little bit.
10. Cool for 30 minutes on a wire rack. The recipe says to cool them in the pan then removing them. I’m not sure it matters much. Cool for another 20-30 minutes before cutting.