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Garlic, Herb and Cheese Pot Bread

  • SERVINGS: MAKES 1 LARGE LOAF
  • MAKE-AHEAD
  • VEGETARIAN

Pot bread, or potbrood, is traditionally served at braais. It was once baked in a cast-iron Dutch oven set directly in the hot ash-gray coals, with more coals piled on the lid. Today, most South Africans bake the bread in a conventional oven.

  1. 2 cups warm water (105° to 115°)
  2. 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  3. 1 tablespoon sugar
  4. 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  5. 5 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  6. 2 teaspoons salt
  7. 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
  8. 1/2 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
  9. 2 tablespoons minced scallion greens
  10. 2 teaspoons minced rosemary
  11. 1 1/2 cups coarsely grated sharp Cheddar cheese (4 1/2 ounces)
  1. In a bowl, combine the water, yeast and sugar and let stand until foamy, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt; make a well in the center. Pour in the yeast mixture and stir well with a wooden spoon. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and satiny, about 7 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl; turn the dough ball to coat it evenly with oil. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Punch down the dough and knead it briefly while it is still in the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead again until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Return the dough to the bowl and let rest, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, 1 to 2 minutes; set aside. In a small bowl, combine the parsley, scallion greens and rosemary.
  5. Generously grease a 2 1/2 -quart round cast-iron casserole or a 10-inch skillet. Cut off a 1/2 -cup-size piece of dough. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the small piece of dough into a 10- to 12-inch round. Fit the dough round in the bottom and 1 inch up the side of the prepared casserole. Roll out the remaining dough to a 22-by-15-inch rectangle.
  6. Spread the garlic evenly over the dough rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border. Sprinkle the herb mixture on the dough and spread the cheese evenly on top. Starting with a long side, roll the dough into a log. Cut 1 inch off each end of the log and discard. Cut the log crosswise into 8 equal slices. Set 1 slice on its side in the center of the dough-lined casserole and arrange the remaining 7 slices around it. Let the dough rise, uncovered, until it is about 3 inches high, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350°. Bake the bread for 50 to 60 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Run a knife around the edge of the casserole to loosen the bread, then turn it out onto a rack. Using a clean kitchen towel, turn the bread right side up and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.
Make Ahead The baked bread can be wrapped and frozen for up to 1 week.
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