If you haven't made bread before, I highly recommend it - especially if you are having a particularly stressful week. Of course, I'd recommend making this on a day when you have a few hours to spare [most are spent waiting for the dough to proof, but you can always watch TV or do something else in the meantime]. I've always loved the therapeutic nature of making bread dough by hand - all the punching and kneading, waiting and seeing the dough rise. There's something satisfying of making a bread from scratch. And after all the waiting, you are rewarded by a nice hot bread, fresh out of the oven. I like the fact you can just pull off a roll and chomp away. Give it a try :).
Ham & Cheese Bread with Boursin Swirls
Adapted from Cooking Bread
Yield: 10 servings
1 cup scalded milk
3 tsp instant yeast
2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup butter
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 cups bread flour
1 cup diced ham
1/2-1 cup cheddar, monterey, pepperjack cheese [shredded]
1 package Boursin cheese [with garlic & fine herbs]
2 Tbsp cornmeal
1 egg white
1. To prepare dough: Pour milk into a heavy saucepan and scald. Do not allow the milk to come to a boil. Pour scalded milk into a large bowl and cool to 105°F. Add in 1 cup bread flour and mix till smooth. Then, add in yeast and another 1 cup bread flour. Mix with a wooden spoon. [Dough will be firm]. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 1 hour in a warm place [~85°F].
2. Butter mixture: About 10 minutes before dough is ready, cream butter and sugar together in a bowl. Add in eggs and mix for 3 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl.
3. Add butter mixture to the dough and mix till smooth. Then add 1 cup of bread flour and mix.
4. Add 1/2 cup flour to a flat surface and continue to add in the rest of the flour as needed. Knead for 8 minutes [dough will be on the sticky side but shouldn't stick to the table].
5. After kneading, add in the diced ham and knead till all the ham is distributed throughout the dough. Add a little oil to a bowl and place the kneaded dough into the bowl and turn over till you have a very light coating on all sides of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
6. After dough has risen, place onto a flat surface. Roll out the dough into a 18 inch circle.
7. Leave a 3-inch circle in the center of the dough. Using a pastry cutter and cut the dough into four equal slices [mainly to help evenly divide it]. Then cut each slice into five more slices.
8. Now, spread the boursin cheese onto every other slice.
9. After you have spread the boursin cheese take the non cheese slices and place them on top of the cheesed slices.
10. Give each slice three twists.
11. Roll the first twist from the side and place onto the middle of the dough. Continue with all the pieces till they are all rolled together.
12. Place loaf on a parchment-lined baking sheet dusted with cornmeal. Gently whip egg-white and brush over dough. Sprinkle shredded cheese evenly over to top.
13. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 1 hour. Then bake at 350°F for 30 - 35 minutes, or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Place onto a wire rack and cool.
Notes: You can also use AP flour instead of bread flour. It will just be a bit more fluffy. Also, you can add some chopped scallions or chives into the dough when mixing in the ham. Add more or less cheese on the top depending on preference.