The first time I had an Asiago bagel, I liked it so much I had it for breakfast for a whole week straight. You want to know the weirdest part? I would always have it with strawberry jam. The first time Chip saw me do this he thought it was weird. To which I replied, “to each his own” or her own as the case may be. Sweet and salty appeals to me, so there!
So when I saw the Asiago herb and garlic bread recipe at foodiewithfamily.com, I simply have to try it. Especially now that I am no longer intimidated by yeast. You see yeast and me… we’re like this (put two fingers together). They were having a giveaway too so I also get to play. I didn’t win the giveaway but I felt like a winner anyway. I wish I was able to take a picture of the interior of this bread but my officemates gobbled up the first slice and finished the entire loaf in minutes. It was that good.
I am a newbie to baking with yeast and this is only my fourth try. The thing that appealed to me the most about this bread is the fact that it can be ready in one and a half hours. No kidding! My first artisan no knead, Dutch oven bread took 12 hours to proof and another 2 hours to rest. How can a delicious bread be prepared, rested, rise, and baked so quickly? Well, this bread sure did and let me tell you, it is hmmm hmmm good. It could easily be the bread they serve you at a fine restaurant. Believe you me. Don’t take my word for it, see for yourself and try it now.
Asiago Herb and Garlic Bread
6 cups all-purpose flour
1- 1/2 cups plus 2/3 cup grated Asiago cheese, divided
2 Tablespoons dry yeast
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon dried Italian Seasoning
1 teaspoon dried Rosemary
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (adjust up or down according to heat preference)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic (optional)
2 cups hot tap water (around 120-130 degrees)
4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus a little for the bowl
Whisk the flour with 1-1/2 cups grated Asiago, yeast, sugar, salt, Italian seasoning, rosemary, red pepper flakes, onion and garlic powder. (If using a food processor, simply add those dry ingredients to the food processor bowl and pulse 5 times.) Pour in the hot water and stir 100 times (That is equal to 3 minutes with a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. If using the food processor, drizzle the water in while the machine is running until the dough forms a ball.)
Knead the dough for 8 minutes (If using stand mixer with a dough hook, allow to mix on low for 4 minutes. If using the food processor, allow the ball to spin 20 times.) Form the dough into a tight round. Drizzle some olive oil into a bowl. Place dough into the bowl and flip over, so both sides are lightly coated with olive oil. Cover with a damp tea towel (or paper towel) and allow to rise for 15 minutes.
Punch down dough and divide into two equal pieces. Form the dough into rounds. To make a nice tight ball, pulling the top of the dough down and over the side. Then, tuck the excess under. Voila! Tight dough balls! Place about 6 inches apart on an ungreased, rimmed baking sheet. Gently pat the dough rounds down so they are relatively flat on top. Use a sharp knife to slash an ‘x’ about 1/4″ deep over the tops of the loaves. Drizzle each loaf with about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and then top each loaf with about 1/3 cup additional grated Asiago.
Place baking sheet in a cold oven over a cake or loaf pan filled with hot tap water. Set oven to 400°F. As soon as you turn the oven on, set your timer for 40 minutes. Begin checking the bread when the timer goes off. If bread is a gorgeous deep golden brown, remove it. If it is still light colored, pop it back in the oven. You may need as much as 10 more minutes.
Remove the bread and serve hot, warm or room temperature. This is one bread that tastes great any way you slice it!
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