Saturday, January 1, 2011

Easter Cheese Bread for Rebecca

1 LB grated Romano Cheese (you can use a Parmesan Romano blend but all Romano is the best)
1/2 cup sugar (a scant 1/2 cup)
1 tsp salt
1/2 Cup crisco
2 Cups scalded milk

2 oz yeast cake
dissolved in 1/2 cup lukewarm water

8-12 eggs beaten ( the variance is based on size of eggs, when this recipe was written by my great grandmother eggs were pretty inconsistent)
11 cups (or less) flour
1/2 (or more) tsp black pepper

I have a 4.5 quart Kitchen Aid mixer which cannot handle this recipe as a whole batch so I split it in two. If you have a big 6 quart mixer you might be able to do the whole thing.

Add the first 5 ingredients to your mixing bowl. I like to leave a few chunks of Romano cheese in the mix. They provide a happy little bite of cheese to the lucky souls who find them in the bread.

Blend together in the bowl of your mixer, the scalded milk should melt the crisco pretty nicely. Be sure the mixture is not to hot then add your yeast. Mix well, then add the beaten eggs, mix well. Then add the pepper and 4-5 cups of flour. Start mixing and add flour about 1/2 cup at a time until the dough forms a soft sponge. This is the step that takes the most practice and feel. The dough will still be pretty sticky and you should be able to see bubbles in it. It won't be a typical elastic bread dough.

Place the dough in a warm oiled kettle or mixing bowl, cover with a picee of wax paper and a clean kitchen towel and let it rise.

After it rises the first time punch it down and divide into 4 loaves. Place each loaf into a greased bread pan or suitably sized  vessel. It is part of the tradition in our family to to make at least one loaf in a different shaped or sized thing. Most of that stems from my mother never owning four loaf pans but having a lot of cool pottery that was made by my Aunt and/or Uncle.

Cover the loaves and let the dough rise again in the pans.

Preheat the oven to 425

Brush each loaf with beaten egg.  Now at this point if you aren't careful the loaves will collapse a bit in the pan so I usually plan on letting them rise for 10 minutes or so after I have brushed them.

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes then reduce the temperature to 350 and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

The tops of the loaves should be a dark mahogany color and the loaves will be surprisingly light for their size. Let them cool before cutting, it will be hard because they smell amazing but if you cut them too soon they tend to fall apart a bit.

As much as I love this bread fresh and served with Easter dinner, it is really the toast it makes the next day. Toasted Easter cheese bread with butter is a delight that I look forward to every year.

The two full rises and the process of putting this bread together turns it into a long project which is why I only make it once a year. It is very well worth it.

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