Time to get the oven going! Down here in NC I’m sure there will be snow soon… The weathermen might not agree just yet, but the chill in the air tells me it’s going to be a white winter soon. And what better way to keep away the chill inside than to bake something yummy, and let the oven give you both warmth and bread?
In that bread-baking state of mind, I pulled out some handwritten baking recipes my grandmother sent me to share them with you.
This is a Cottage Cheese & Dill Bread that is absolutely lovely. Between the shallots, eggs, cheese, and fresh herbs, this bread has it all.
Make one for yourself & give the other away! They make fantastic gifts for neighbors and friends.
My favorite way to eat this bread is as loaded down with creamy scrambled eggs made with the leftover fresh dill (I’ll have a recipe for you soon!).
1/2 cup warm water (around 110 degrees Fahrenheit)
2 teaspoons sugar
16 ounces cottage cheese (I have successfully used all sizes of curd and fat levels, but I'd recommend 4% large curd)
2 teaspoons minced shallots (or any type of onion on hand)
2 tablespoons chopped dill (substitute dried if you need to)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
First, proof the yeast by sprinkling the dry yeast over the warm water and stir until blended, then stir in the sugar, and set aside. In a few minutes, the yeast should have bubbled up and bloomed in the bowl (if it hasn't your yeast is either too old or your water was too hot, which killed the yeast).
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or any bowl, if you'd like to make it by hand), mix the cottage cheese, shallots, dill, baking powder, salt, and eggs until thoroughly combined.
Pour in the yeast mixture and mix until thoroughly combined.
Next, if using the stand mixer, add the flour 1/2 a cup at a time while mixing on the lowest setting, waiting before it is incorporated to add the more flour. It should be a stiff dough after you add all the flour. If not, add a couple tablespoons at a time until it holds together.
At this point you can either knead it in the mixer (my preferred method) or by hand for about 5 minutes or so, until the dough is supple and springs back when touched.
Next you want to let the dough rise twice in a bowl. My method for this is to preheat an oven to 200 degrees, and while that is heating, coat a large glass bowl with PAM for baking (or you can use butter and flour). Transfer the dough into the bowl and cover the bowl with a damp, clean kitchen towel. Shut off the oven and place the bowl into the warmed oven to rise. It should take between 30 minutes and an hour for the dough to rise until it has doubled.
Next you want to punch it down, which I do by folding the dough in over itself several times while still in the bowl. You will see that the dough deflates after you do this. Re-cover and place back in the oven. Wait until the dough has doubled again (another 30-60 minutes).
Separate the dough in half and transfer to two coated (with PAM or butter and flour) loaf pans. I like to gently shape the dough into a log with a smooth top as I move the dough from bowl to pan, to give a prettier end result.
cover the pans with your damp kitchen towel and allow them to rise on your counter until the loaves have about reached the top of the pan (around 30 minutes).
Finally, bake the loaves at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes (if you use metal loaf pans, it may take less time, as I used glass, which takes longer to bake with).
Once the loaf has browned on the top, remove the pans from the oven, let them cool a minute or two, then (with oven mitts on!) carefully roll the loaves out of the pans. Put the loaves back into the oven straight onto the rack or baking stone, and leave them for another 5-15 minutes, to allow the sides and bottom to develop their crust more.
Remove and allow the bread to cool completely on a cooling rack before cutting into the loaf.
To store the loaves, use a brown paper bag (like a lunch bag) would be just fine.
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