Some people are serious cheese fanatics. You know, those people who can eat tons of cheese by itself, especially the heavy-duty kinds (parmesan, cheddar, the real kickers), the ones who heap it on their plates whenever they get the chance? Well, that’s not me. I like cheese, but I can do with one little cube if I’m eating it plain and that’s enough for me. The only cheeses I really enjoy cold are mozzarella and feta. And it drives me crazy when a sandwich has cold cheese on it!
I, too, have a weakness for cheese though, when it comes to melted cheese. So if you give me a sandwich with lots of melted cheese, a pizza with extra cheese, french onion soup with its oh-so-cheesy goodness, or eggs which taste significantly more cheesy than eggy, I’m happy. Therefore, it’s not exactly surprising that when I was searching through my good ol’ book of bread recipes, this particular recipe caught my attention.
Besides the cheese, the other thing that makes this bread delicious is the cooked onions. I shy away from raw onions because I always regret eating them later (you know, that not-so-good breath that won’t go away). Cooked onions, though, are another thing entirely. Let me tell you, I love them!
This is a nice and hearty bread. I enjoyed it plain, as I do with most breads, because I’ve sworn off adding butter and I’ve come to appreciate the actual taste individual breads have. However, I think it would also be a good addition to soup.
Cheese and Onion Loaf
(makes 1 loaf)
3 1/2 T butter
1 onion, chopped
4 cups unbleached white bread flour
1 1/2 tsp rapid-rise yeast
1 tsp mustard powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2/3 cup milk, lukewarm
2/3 cup water, lukewarm
1. In a hot, medium-sized skillet pan, melt 2 T of the butter. Add the chopped onion and saute until golden and no longer crisp.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, mustard powder, salt and pepper. Whisk lightly to combine. Add three quarters of the grated cheddar (1 1/8 cups), plus the sauteed onion, and stir to incorporate into the flour mixture. Make a small indentation in the center of the mixture and pour the lukewarm milk and water into this spot. Mix until a moist dough forms. Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 10 minutes, at which point the dough should be supple.
3. Lightly oil a large glass bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with oiled saran wrap and leave to rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes. This process could take longer depending on the temperature where the bowl is located. You want to make sure that the dough has doubled in size before you continue.
4. Melt the remaining 1 1/2 T butter. Return the dough to your floured surface, punch it down gently, and knead it for a few seconds. Then, divide it into 20 equal pieces and shape these pieces into round balls (they should be slightly bigger than a golf ball but not as big as a baseball). Place ten of the balls into the bottom of a greased 10 x 4 inch loaf pan, and brush half of the melted butter over them. You should have 5 rows of dough balls, with two balls in each row. Add the other ten balls of dough on top and brush with the remaining melted butter.
5. Cover the loaf tin with the oiled saran wrap once again and let the dough rise for another 45 minutes (or longer if needed) until the dough reaches the top of the tin. When the dough appears to be about ready, preheat the oven to 375 F. Sprinkle the rest of the grated cheese over the top of the loaf. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, until the bread is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool before serving.