Summer Herbed Cheese Bread

Makes 1 large loaf or 2 smaller loaves
Baking bread is a forgotten pleasure, and this fragrant herbed bread is such a simple way to bring the aroma of the garden into your kitchen.

One 1/4-ounce package (2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cup warm (105°F–115°F) water
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, as needed
1 cup shredded sharp Vermont cheddar cheese or cottage cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mixed herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary, chives, thyme)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for baking pan
1 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

  1. In a large bowl, combine the yeast with warm water. Sprinkle with sugar and let stand until the mixture looks foamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in 1 cup of the flour, along with the cheese, herbs, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Gradually stir in enough flour to make stiff dough.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead, adding more flour as required, until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Gather the dough into a ball. (tip: Press two fingers into the top of the ball of dough. If the dents smooth out, the dough is ready. If the dents remain, continue to knead the dough a little longer. )
  4. Transfer to a lightly oiled large bowl, turn to coat both sides with the oil, then cover with a kitchen towel and let stand in a warm place until the dough has doubled in volume, about 1 hours.
  5. Punch the dough, and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Lightly oil a large bread loaf pan, and shape the dough to fit inside. Turn the dough over to coat both sides with oil and once again cover and let stand in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 45 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375°F. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the loaves sound hollow on the bottom when tapped. Transfer to a wire rack and cool before slicing.
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