This bread was made for my longtime friend, climbing buddy, and nemesis, Christine DiMenna!
This bread is one of those where you’re like “Oh, I made a whole loaf and now it’s gone already.” The milk and egg make the crumb soft and fluffy, while an egg wash on the crust makes it crisp and shiny, and a little black pepper gives it some zing. It’s great on its own, or as a bread bowl for soup, or any other cheese/bread situation. Breakfast sammie? Sure! French toast? Maybe! I didn’t try!
This post features guest photography from photographer and friend extraordinaire, Marc Franklin of Playbill. He takes pictures of famous people. And also my bread. Does that mean my bread is famous people? You decide.
As for the Millennial-Mandated Avocado Toast Rating: The flavor of this bread is subtle and rich, which lifts up the avocado well. A little cheese never hurt nobody, neither. 🥑🥑🥑🥑/5
Asiago Cheese Bread
(makes two medium round loaves, takes about 3-3.5hrs)
• 406g AP flour
• 2¼ tsp active dry yeast
• 1.5 tsp salt
• 1T sugar
• ¼ tsp black pepper
• 1¼ c milk
• 2T butter
• 1½ c shredded asiago
• 1 egg
1. Gather your ingredients. In this recipe, the hydration comes from milk and melted butter. That’s why it’s so soft and fluffy. Fats like milk and butter inhibit gluten development, which leads to your bread not having as much of that chewy gluteniness in it.
2. Mix about the yeast, sugar, salt, pepper, and about half the flour in a large bowl. Put the butter and milk in a (different, microwave-safe) bowl and heat it to about 120°-130° to start the butter melting. Be sure it’s not hotter than that or you’ll kill the yeast, and then you’ll go to jail, and your kids deserve to have a father. Mix the milk/butter mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until smooth.
3. Add all but ¼ cup of the cheese and mix until just combined.
4. Add remaining flour, half a cup at a time, until a soft dough forms. Knead 5-7 minutes until it’s smoother and holding together. It should still be nice and soft, though probably not super smooth.
5. Grease a bowl with cooking spray, put the dough in and turn it once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rise until doubled, 1-2 hours.
6. Deflate the dough and divide it roughly in half. Shape into two round loaves, place them on greased baking sheets. Cover and allow to rise until doubled again, 30-45 minutes.
7. Preheat the oven to 375°.
8. Slash 3 or 4 times across the dough with a sharp knife about ¼” deep. Beat the egg (you monster. You deserve to go to jail.) and brush the tops of the loaves. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and bake 30-35 minutes until lightly browned.
9. Let it cool for 20-30 minutes minimum before slicing! When you’ve got a soft crumb like this one, if you slice it too early, it’ll just be a gummy mess. I know you want to eat it, but it’ll be worth it to let it cool. Trust me. Let him cool, then slice him up (you sicko) and eat him (oh my god). Enjoy!