Bread has always been the center of each culture; from western Asia, where wheat was cultivated to Europe and North Africa. Towns development as opposed to the nomadic lifestyle. Similar to the rise of rice in eastern Asia and maize in the Americas.
The idea of a standing oven for baking bread is attributed to the Greeks and in the Middle Ages, it served as a staple food not only in the home, but in the trenches during warfare where a stale piece of bread sustained the weary soldier.
Today's bread, made in commercial bakeries, includes chemical additives to speed up the process of fermentation. Common additives include: L-cystine, sodium matabisulfate, and oxidants such as potassium bromate or ascorbic acid. I don't know about you, but these additives are not something I want in my bread!
The Applewood Smoked Cheddar is the perfect accompaniment to the dried cranberries and this "brioche-like" bread is good plain, with butter, toasted, or as we had it the next day, as grilled cheese!
Applewood Smoked Cheddar~Cranberry Bread
4 1/2 tsp. (2 pkg. Red Star Quick Rise Yeast
3 T warm water (about 110F-115F-degrees)
2 T maple syrup
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup silken Tofu
4 large eggs
2 cups shredded smoked Cheddar or Gouda cheese
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
4 1/2 to 5 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Four
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
In a 1 cup-glass measure, whisk together the yeast and maple syrup into the warm water. Wait 5 to 10 minutes for the mixture to foam.
In a bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter, then add the silken Tofu and blend together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.
Beat in eggs, one at a time, again scraping down the sides of the bowl. Stir in the cheese, salt, pepper, yeast mixture and 4 cups of flour; blend well. Remove the paddle attachment and attach the dough hook.
Mix in cranberries and gradually add enough remaining flour until a soft dough forms and it no longer clings to the sides of the bowl.
Place the dough in a lightly buttered large bowl, right side down, then turn over and place plastic wrap over to cover. Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown, tenting with aluminum foil to prevent excess browning. An instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the loaf should register 190-200F-degrees. Remove from the oven and after a few minutes, turn loaves out onto a rack to cool completely.