Garlic, Herb and Cheese Pot Bread
- SERVINGS: MAKES 1 LARGE LOAF
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.
- 2 cups warm water (105° to 115°)
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1/2 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons minced scallion greens
- 2 teaspoons minced rosemary
- 1 1/2 cups coarsely grated sharp Cheddar cheese (4 1/2 ounces)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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