This recipe makes a great bread loaf loaded with basil, tomatoes, garlic, and grated cheddar; the bread has a magnificent delicate texture, and is stuffed with flavour. The shape is easy to accomplish, and makes a noteworthy presentation.
For the Dough
- 3 cups unbleached bread flour
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1¼ teaspoons salt
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup lukewarm milk
- ⅓ cup lukewarm water
- 2¼ tablespoons olive oil
For the Filling
- ¾ cup shredded Italian-blend cheese or the cheese of your choice
- ½ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes or your own oven-roasted tomatoes
- 3 - 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh basil
- <strong>To make the dough:</strong> Combine all of the dough ingredients in a bowl <em>(or the bucket of your bread machine)</em>, and mix and knead — by hand, using a mixer, or in your bread machine set on the dough cycle — to make a smooth, very soft dough. The dough should stick a bit to the bottom of the bowl if you're using a stand mixer.
- Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for 45 - 60 minutes, or until it's doubled in size.
- Meanwhile, thoroughly drain the tomatoes, patting them dry. Use kitchen shears to cut them into smaller bits.
- Gently deflate the dough. Flatten and pat it into a 60cm x 20cm rectangle. Spread with the cheese, tomatoes, garlic, and basil.
- Starting with one long edge, roll the dough into a log the long way. Pinch the edges to seal. Place the log seam-side down on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Using kitchen shears, start 1cm from one end and cut the log lengthwise down the center about 2cm, deep, to within 1cm of the other end.
- Keeping the cut side up, form an "S" shape. Tuck both ends under the centre of the "S" to form a "figure 8;" pinch the ends together to seal.
- Cover and let rise in a warm place until double, 45 to 60 minutes.
- While the loaf is rising, preheat the oven to 175°C.
- Uncover the bread, and bake it for 35 to 40 minutes, tenting it with foil after 20 to 25 minutes to prevent over-browning.
- Remove the bread from the oven, and transfer it to a rack to cool. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. Store, well-wrapped, at room temperature for a couple of days; freeze for longer storage.