Cheddar and Rye Bread

I'm going to admit that I'm getting a little tired of eating toast for every meal. I mean, wow, it's great toast, it really truly is, but I need something else, you know? I'm almost all breaded out. Almost. But not before I made possibly the tastiest loaf so far.

I always have a sense of satisfaction after making bread, as anyone should. Even in school when we were churning out 7kg of dough everyday, I was still really proud of myself for making good bread. There's something kinda earthy and grounding in the whole process of making bread. Bread and beer are the two things that have been around as long as humans decided to sit their butts down in one place and live together. Someone made bread thousands of years ago in their mud and dung hut and yet here you are, doing the same thing with your running water and central heating and fuzzy slippers. It's a weird thought.

And when you think about the overall process of bread making at home, it hasn't changed much considering all the time that has passed. I mean, yeah, we've got dutch ovens and instant yeast, but I think you get my drift. It's simple, it's easy, and it works. Not everything has to be streamlined and efficient and cost-effective, especially at home. Slow down once in a while, man. Stop and smell the bread once in a while. It's worth it. It's good bread.

As with the other bread recipes on here, I suggest you take a look at my 80% Biga Bread and my Basic Bread Dough for the basics of bread so you know what I mean by "folding" and the "pincer method" and the "finger dent test". 

The original recipe is for a simple white bread, which you can easily make by subbing the rye for white and opting out of the cheese. 

A sample schedule for this bread would be:
  • 6 p.m. - Mix the poolish
  • 8 a.m. - Mix the final dough
  • 11 a.m. - Shape the loaves
  • 12 p.m. - Bake

Cheddar and Rye Bread
Recipe adapted from Flour Water Salt Yeast

500 g all-purpose flour
500 g water at 80 F/27 C
0.4 g instant dried yeast

Final Dough
400 g all-purpose flour
100 g dark rye flour
21 g fine sea salt
3 g instant dried yeast
130 g cheddar cheese
1,000 g poolish

Make the poolish by combing the flour and yeast in a 6 quart tub (or equivalent). Add the 80 F/27 C water and mix by hand until completely combined. Cover and leave out overnight at room temperature (65 to 70 F/18 to 21 C).

For the final dough, mix the two flours in a 12 quart tub (or equivalent). Add the 21g salt, 3 g yeast, and 130 g cheese. Mix by hand until evenly distributed. 

Pour 250 g of 105 F/41 C water around the perimeter of the poolish, loosening it from its tub. Then pour the water and poolish into the flour mixture.

Mix by hand, wetting your working hand before mixing the dough so the dough doesn't stick to you. Using the pincer method alternating with folding the dough to fully integrate the ingredients.

This dough needs two or three folds which are best applied during the first hour of fermentation. The total fermentation time is 2 to 3 hours.

After it has fermented, flour your hand and a work surface. Gently ease the dough out of the tub and onto your work surface. Use a bit of flour to dust the area in the middle where you'll cut the dough, then cut it into 2 equal sized pieces with a dough knife or metal bench scraper.

Dust two proofing baskets (or your substitution) with flour. Shape each piece of dough by folding it, flip it upside down, then cup your hand around the back of the dough ball. Pull the entire dough ball 6 to 8 inches towards you on a dry, unfloured surface, leading with your pinky fingers and apply enough pressure so the dough ball grips your work surface and doesn't just slide across it. This will tighten up the ball and add tension to it. Give the loaf a quarter turn and repeat this tighten step. Repeat again until you've gone all the way around the dough ball two or three times. Repeat with the second loaf of dough. Place the loaves seam-side down in the proofing basket.

Lightly flour the tops of the loaves. Set them side by side (in the bowls) and cover with a kitchen towel. Preheat the oven to 475 F (245 C) and place a dutch oven on the middle rack with the lid on. The proofing time for this bread is about 1 hour, check the proofing with the finger dent test (in my basic bread dough recipe). If you only have one Dutch oven, place one of the loaves, covered, in the fridge 20 minutes before the first loaf goes into the oven.

Be very careful with the extremely hot dutch oven in this next step. Invert the proofed loaf onto a lightly floured countertop, keeping in mind that the top of the loaf will be the side that was facing down while it was rising - the seam side. Remove the preheated Dutch oven from the oven, remove the lid, and carefully place the loaf in the Dutch oven seam side up. Cover and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and continue to bake for a further 20 to 30 minutes, until at least medium dark brown around all the loaf. Check after 15 minutes of baking uncovered in case your oven runs hot.

Remove the Dutch oven and carefully tilt it to turn the loaf out. Place on a wire rack to let it cool, about 20 minutes. Put the Dutch oven back in the oven for 5 minutes to preheat it, then bake the second loaf in the same way.