Friday 3 June 2011

Cottage Cheese and Dill Bread

Although I enjoy a good dill pickle, I am not fond of using fresh dill in my cooking.  It leaves a metallic aftertaste in my mouth and it causes me to burp.  You can imagine, then, that I was not thrilled to find dill in my basket from Alderlea Farm this week.  Fresh herbs are dear at this time of year though and I am too frugal to let them go to waste, so I set about finding something I could make that would allow me to actually enjoy the dill.

I decided to bake a cottage cheese and dill bread.  I’d seen a roll recipe in a Sunset book many years ago and took my inspiration from that.  It turned out to be a good idea.  The bread was very tasty, indeed.

I started by combining a cup of cottage cheese and an egg in my blender.  I pureed them until smooth and then left them while I put together the rest of the ingredients, thinking that the few minutes rest would help to take the chill off them.

Next, I combined 2 cups of high gluten white bread flour, 1-1/4 cups of rye flour, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. baking soda, and 1 tsp. salt.  I whisked them together until they were well combined. 

I thought this would be a good time to mix in the dill so I finely chopped about 2 Tbsp. of my fresh dill and then mixed it into the dry mixture with my fingers, ensuring that it was well dispersed and that each little piece of dill was lightly coated in flour.

Then I cut in 2 Tbsp. of cold butter.  I used my fingers to break the butter down into the flour mixture, pressing it into smallish, flat pieces, almost like flakes.

Although I’d already added leaveners in the form of baking powder and baking soda, I wanted that yeast bread flavour.  I dissolved 1 Tbsp. molasses in 1/2 cup of lukewarm water.  I sprinkled 2-1/4 tsp. yeast over the top of the liquid and waited until the yeast dissolved.

I added the yeast mixture and the cottage cheese mixture into the dry mixture, stirring first with a wooden spoon and then finishing by kneading the dough a few times in the bowl.  

I formed the dough into a loaf and put it in an oiled loaf pan.  I let the dough rise for 2 hours.  It didn’t rise as much as I thought it might but, then again, it did have rye flour in it.  Rye breads don’t rise as high as yeast breads do.

The bread baked at 375ºF for about 40 minutes.  It was very tender when I turned it out of the pan—in fact the top cracked under the weight of the loaf—but it sounded hollow when I tapped it on the bottom so I knew it was done.  I turned the loaf right-side-up and brushed the crust with clarified butter.

The bread smelled so good we didn't wait for it to cool.  We sliced into it about 5 minutes after I took it out of the oven.  Not a good idea; the slices crumbled when we picked them up.  Even though it apparently requires more restraint than I have to do so, please wait until your loaf cools before slicing it.

I think that next time I try this recipe I’ll make rolls and adjust the cooking time accordingly.  That way they can be served warm from the oven.

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