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Lately, we have been so busy with renovating the old McCorrie Lane kitchen and turning it into my dream kitchen, that I haven’t had time to blog about any recipes. Between pondering the wisdom of the desired white carrara marble (too delicate) and the more functional granite for my coveted island, arguing about shoddy installation on a new half-moon window, and patting myself on the back for insisting on a pot filler, I have neglected my current, tiny, galley kitchen! Which Kevin so lovingly installed back in his bachelor days…who knew I could make such yummy meals in a kitchen previously stocked only with ketchup, Leinenkugel, and paper towels….? Lucky man, my husband!

Hopefully we will be moved into McCorrie Lane by this July, and I will be putting the new old kitchen back to good use. Years ago I was my Aunt Nonie’s sous chef, diligently coring apples, chopping onions (Under running water? While holding bread in your mouth? Really? Anyone know how to keep from tearing up?) and spinning lettuce dry…while the house is given new life and a new family, I will take over as head chef.

Tonight, I finally decided enough was enough, and I wanted real homemade bread to serve with dinner. There are many flavor variations you can use in this recipe- for instance, eliminate or substitute the provolone for romano, omit basil and add oregano, etc. etc.

Ingredients:

2 cups bread flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

½ cup warm water + 1 teaspoon sugar

1 ½  cup water (more or less as needed)

2 ½ teaspoons yeast

Generous pinch of fresh ground pepper

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup grated sharp provolone cheese

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil (any variety)

1 head roasted garlic

Directions 

1)      Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Pull off the outer dry skin from a head of garlic, snip off the tips of the cloves, drizzle with olive oil, and fold into a sealed foil packet. Bake in the oven about half an hour, or until fragrant & soft.

2)      Grate 1 cup of extra sharp provolone, or another robust cheese that you prefer. Coarsely chop about 2 tablespoons of fresh basil. Kristina and I are finally reaping the benefits of the herb garden we have been cultivating on our windowsill. Set aside.

3)      Add 1 teaspoon sugar to ½ cup warm water; stir, add yeast, stir again, and allow to rise into a frothy, creamy, mixture. Meanwhile, combine flours, salt and pepper in a bowl, or a mixer.

4)      Being to work the yeast & water mixture into the bowl with the flours. Slowly add up to 1 ½ cups water while continued to knead the dough. Dough should initially be on the stickier, wet side, even a little difficult to handle.

5)      Turn the dough into a greased bowl and cover with a cotton cloth. Set dough aside in a warm, draft-free place for an hour, or until it has doubled in size. I place the bowl of dough on top on the stove while the garlic roasts.

6)      Punch dough down, and create a bowl in the center. Put the cheese, garlic, and basil, into the hollow, and work through dough, kneading until ingredients are evenly dispersed throughout. On a well-floured work surface, fold dough over on itself repeatedly, creating a ball.

7)      Turn oven to 500 degrees. Put the ball of dough into a dutch oven (any sort of oven-proof glass/ceramic lidded container, preferably round).Allow dough to rise again, about 30 minutes.

8)      Place in preheated oven, covered, and allow to bake 30 minutes.

9)      Take the lid off the dutch oven for the last 10-15 minutes, allowing for a nice browning of the top crust.

10)   Once cooled sufficiently, dump bread out of dutch oven and serve warm! You will find that the crust is crisp and hearty, while the center of the bread has a nice moist crumb studded with cheese and herbs.

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