Cheese Braid

 I have a favorite new way to make quick bread sticks. It’s loaded with cheese, butter and garlic, my kid’s favorite toppings. I’m using the easy 5-minute bread dough made in a shoe box again. I can’t tell you when is the last time I actually proofed and let my dough rise twice (for those real bakers out there). I make this recipe very similar to my chicken braid and pepperoni stromboli, except like I said earlier, it’s cheese only, baby. It’s the perfect accompaniment to any Italian meal.

I begin by rolling a 9×13 rectangle and I use a silpat mat, no sticking or greasing. This is a non-stick silicone mat found at kitchen stores or Amazon. It makes baking so easy because you can use it to roll out the dough in the 9×13 shape and then bake it, too. This is a multi-tasking winner in my cookbook.

Then I carefully, cut 3-inch slits on the sides. They are about an inch apart. I sprinkle cheese and drizzle melted butter and garlic salt on top.

Then comes the pretty part, which looks difficult, but it’s not. I criss-cross the strips across the middle, alternating on each side.

It looks braided, but it’s not. Now press your “That Was Easy” button if you have one and wow your family and guests.

Bake at 450 for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned and cheese is melted and yummy. Enjoy hot as pull apart bread or slice with your pizza wheel and serve as yummy bread sticks.

Feel free to make two braids while you’re at it because hey, your bread dough is already made. You have enough for three. The braid or bread sticks freeze nicely and re-heat either in the oven wrapped in foil or microwave.

Freezer Prep: Cool completely, wrap tightly in foil and place inside a gallon size freezer bag. Thaw completely before re-heating.

Visit my Artisan Dough 101 post for more baking ideas with your leftover dough.

Cheese Braid

Ingredients

  • 7 cups flour (I used Eagle Mills which is a combo of ½ white whole wheat and ½ all purpose)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons yeast
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup vital wheat gluten, optional (use with 100% white whole wheat flour)
  • 3 ½ cups lukewarm water
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup melted butter with 1 tsp garlic salt, optional

Instructions

  1. Whisk together the dry with the wet ingredients in a plastic shoe box using a heavy duty spoon.
  2. Cover and allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 2 hours.
  3. Refrigerate the dough and use it within 5 days.
  4. On baking day, use 1/3 of the portion of dough at a time.
  5. Use one dough portion, dusting with flour as necessary, pat/roll dusted dough into a 9x13 rectangle. You may use a sil-pat or parchment paper as a guide.
  6. With a pizza wheel, cut 3 inch slits about 1-inch apart on both sides.
  7. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and melted butter if desired.
  8. Alternate strips criss-crossing in the middle. Let dough rest 15 minutes.
  9. Bake in preheated 450 degree oven 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned
  10. Brush with additional butter and garlic salt if desired.
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Have you ever made breadsticks this easy?

Homemade Sandwich Bread

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I may never go back to proofing yeast and kneading and punching and kneading some more. Why? Because the Artisan Bread In Five Cookbook has changed the way I bake. I bake in quantity with such ease. I made three loaves of sandwich bread from this 5 minute dough I made yesterday. You simply measure the ingredients, mix it up and let it set on the counter for 2 hours and stick in your fridge. The next day or up to 4 days later, you can make 3-4 loaves or 1 loaf at a time. I’m spoiled.

Because I’m a freezer cook, I always choose the abundance route. I made two loaves and one free form loaf so you could see the process. I sprinkle flour on top of my dough and  visually split the entire amount of dough into thirds. I flour my hands and form them gently into loaves and place them in a sprayed pan or make a cute round loaf. I set mine on parchment paper. I allowed the loaves to rest for 2 hours. The authors suggest at least 1 1/2 hours of resting time. Slash the free form loaf before baking.

Bake at 450 for 45-50 minutes. I brushed mine with honey butter and let them cool in the pans for fifteen minutes and then transferred to a cooling rack. I allowed them to cool completely and then sliced with an electric knife. I have a guide which helps with thin equal slices. A serrated knife will work also. Even when I sliced my bread, it was slightly warm.

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When it’s completely cool, I wrapped in plastic wrap or foil for the freezer. Double wrap in regular foil or slip the loaf into a gallon size bag for extra protection. I reused a store-bought bread bag and we’ll eat this bread in the next 2 days.

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If I don’t have plans for sandwiches in the next 2 days, I freeze mine. Thaw prior 12-24 hours at room temperature prior to making sandwiches, french toast, Pananis and more. Reuse the ends or old bread by grinding in a blender and store in your freezer for fresh bread crumbs. Or cube and toss with olive oil and seasonings and bake to make homemade croutons.

I used the canola oil recipe, but I’ve also used the olive oil recipe. This dough works well for calzones, pizza, stromboli and cinnamon rolls. See Artisan Dough 101 post for a measuring and mixing tutorial.

Imagine having loaves of fresh homemade sandwich bread in your freezer. You might give one away since you’ll have more than one loaf if you attempt this recipe.

Pepperoni and Cheese Stromboli (Freezer Friendly)

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I used to love hot pockets during my college days. They were so convenient and tasted good–to a college student. Have you ever noticed no matter what variety you buy, it still tastes the same? Maybe it’s the crust or the same ingredients except for the meat that made them taste similar. Regardless, they were convenient and I bought them for quick lunches.

Now that I’ve grown up a bit, I’m venturing out to make adult convenience lunches with whole foods. I’ve adapted this idea using the artisan dough made with olive or canola oil-you choose your own bread base. Preheat oven to 350. Dust a stone  or cookie sheet with cornmeal.

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I spread tomato sauce sprinkled with italian seasoning-about 1 tsp. and garlic powder-about 1/2 tsp.( you can use 1/2 cup of your favorite pizza or pasta sauce) down the middle and top it with 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, turkey pepperoni slices and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. Next comes the fun part. It looks complicated, but it’s not. It looks prettier than folding over the entire crust and pinching it closed and it’s just as easy. I cut strips on both sides of the filling trying to keep the cuts even on both sides. A large pizza wheel works like a charm for this procedure.

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Then you angle each strip over the filling crossing the opposite strip as you go. Keep alternating strips until you are at the end. Doesn’t it look fancy? Bake this stromboli for about 30 minutes until lightly browned. Tint with foil the last 5-10 minutes if it’s browning too quickly. Remove from stone/pan and place slice into 2-inch slices with the pizza wheel.

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Transfer to a cooling rack and allow the slices to completely cool. This may take up to thirty minutes.

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Wrap each slice in plastic wrap and place in a gallon size bag for your freezer. I throw one in husband’s lunch when we’ve eaten out the night before or we don’t have any leftovers. It’s thawed enough by lunch to microwave one to two minutes (without plastic wrap)

You could double this recipe and make two stromboli- for dinner and one for convenient lunches or make an adult version with black olives, thinly sliced Roma tomatoes, diced peppers and onions or mushrooms and save the plain one for the kiddos. Think pizza toppings. I made two loaves of cinnamon bread at the same time so I was still double bubbling in my oven.

Printable Pepperoni and Cheese Stromboli is linked to Tasty Tuesday. Don’t forget to print your dough recipe-olive oil or canola and use it for more delicious items besides stromboli. Try pizza, cinnamon rolls or bread, sandwich thins, calzones or flatbread.

**Updated 7/19/2015

I recently used my grilled calzone dough recipe here and it was really delicious. I omit the sauce inside (thanks to my daughter’s suggestion and we serve it with my crock pot marinara on the side. Veggies are fantastic.

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IMG_1744My kiddos will disagree and say the pepperoni and cheese only is the way to go.

Honestly either dough works well, and the filling can vary with whatever you have on hand. Why not try both and make extra to freeze!

The finished product is divine.

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