Looking back on it, I'm surprised we weren't shown the front door. There was the time we got busted for having a finger bun icing fight by our boss. It's pretty hard to look professional after that when your uniform is smeared with pink and white icing. Then there was the time we decided to hollow out all the large loaves of bread and make bread helmets and bread shoes for ourselves. And then there were the numerous breadstick sword fights we had. Obviously "model" employees.
Needless to say, I never picked up a single tip about baking bread, which is a shame because I absolutely adore bread. So much so I made a sourdough starter a few months back. Which is very exciting, until I realised it was growing mould, and something had gone horribly, horribly wrong. So back to the drawing board, and back to something much simpler.
This is such a simple bread to put together, AND it looks delightful. And best of all its FILLED WITH CHEESE. Which, if you've ever met me, you'll know is my idea of absolute heaven. It might feel pretty odd plaiting together doughy strands, but roll with it. Even if all you can think about is how this feels exactly like it would plaiting three octopuses tentacles together. Yep it kinda feels weird braiding dough. But the end result is TOTALLY worth it.
Sweet caramelised garlic, smokey melted cheese all wrapped together in a giant bread hug. What more could you possibly need in life?!
Smoked Mozzarella & Roasted Garlic Braided Bread
makes 1 loaf
recipe adapted very loosely from The Frugal Girl
2 cups plain white (unbleached if possible) flour
1 tbs caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp instant dried yeast
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup water + 1 tbs extra for brushing
1 whole head garlic
1 1/2 cups grated smoked mozzarella (regular mozzarella is fine too)
1 tbs fresh chives finely sliced
In the bowl of a stand mixer, attached with a dough hook, combine the flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Gently warm the milk and water, until its just luke warm, and gradually add to the flour mixture. Mix until it starts to form a dough, and then leave the mixer running, kneading the dough for another 3-4 minutes, or until the dough is really smooth and elastic. (Alternatively this can definitely be done by hand, but will just take a bit longer to knead.)
Place in a clean bowl and cover, and leave in a warm spot for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 190ºC, and wrap the head of garlic in foil, and roast for 30 minutes. When roasted, simply squeeze the soft cloves of garlic out of its skin, and set them aside.
On a floured sheet of baking paper, roll out the dough into a rough rectangle, until about 25cm by 40cm. Slice the dough into three even strips, leaving about 3 cm at the top still attached. Evenly split the filling between each strip, season with salt and pepper, and gently pinch the sides of each strip together, to make a cheesy log. Carefully braid each log over each other, and pinch the end together to seal. Leave covered with a clean tea towel in a warm spot to rise again until doubled in size.
Brush the braid with the extra tablespoon of milk, and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until it is golden on top and underneath. You'll know it's ready when a tap to the top crust sounds hollow. Remove from the oven and eat immediately.