July 12, 2009

Bread Baker's Dog Returns with Zucchini Cheese Bread

Xam, the Bread Baker's Dog, is finally doing well. His infection has cleared up after three full weeks of antibiotics, twice daily warm compresses, and lots of love, affection, and vet bills. Since he found the compresses a bit uncomfortable, after the first two times he knew when it was happening and refused to cooperate. Since bribery works, he soon found that the compresses were accompanied by doggie cookies to munch on. It's also called positive reinforcement, but truly it was bribery. Come sit on Sweetie's lap while Mom presses a warm towel where it already hurts. The joys of dog ownership!

The other good news is that his appetite is back...Sweetie's never left...so it's time for bread baking. Since the zucchini continue to be fruitful and multiply and fill the platter on the table, it seemed like a good zucchini bread recipe would be just the ticket. I've only had the sweet, spicy quick bread type so I went looking for a good recipe in my cookbooks. On the way I found a yeasted on that wasn't sweet and included cheese. It's in Breaking Bread with Father Dominic under the Veggie Bread category. It makes two loaves and the crust gets nice and brown because of all the cheese.

As usual I changed it a bit. Father's version called for caraway seeds and Swiss cheese, but I went with Parmesan cheese and fresh minced basil, plus some pine nuts on top, for a more Mediterranean feel. I used olive oil for the vegetable oil and some 12 grain flour from King Arthur's for part of the flour, both of which added some needed flavor.

It made a lovely, moist bread with a good crumb and great crust.

The cheese isn't a dominant flavor, but you can tell that it's there. The zucchini add moistness and some nice speckles, but very little flavor. Even the basil is a hint, not a hit. It's marvelous freshly cooled, but also good as toast. It's a batter bread. I baked one loaf in a loaf pan and the other in a cast iron skillet. The skillet one had a particularly wonderful bottom crust, but the interior was still quite moist but not gummy. Now that I've made an Asparagus Bread (see June 20th post) that he loooovvved and a Zucchini Cheese Bread that he couldn't stop eating, I think I've made a veggie bread lover out of Sweetie!

And Xam?...he love all baked goods. I tried three times to get a photo of him eating a small piece of this bread, but he scarfed it down so fast that each photo was a black blur...this one is the best!

Guess he likes Zucchini Cheese Bread, too!

I've been missing the weekly wonderful event that is Yeastspotting at Susan's Wild Yeast...no time to even go there and drool over the bread being baked by the fantastic bakers featured there...so it's nice to have an entry again...and time to bake bread. Here is the URL for Susan's blog :http://www.wildyeastblog.com/ Nick at Imafoodblog is the host this time. His URL is: http://www.imafoodblog.com/ . Thanks Nick!!

Yeasted Zucchini Cheese Batter Bread
adapted from a recipe in Breaking Bread with Father Dominic
Yields 2 loaves

2 cups milk at room temperature
1 egg
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 packages active dry yeast (1/2 oz)
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 tablespoon salt
about 3 cups bread flour, divided
2 cups 12-grain bread flour (or additional plain bread flour), divided
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded zucchini, excess liquid squeezed out in a towel
2 tablespoons pine nuts (optional)

Combine milk, egg, oil, sugar and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Stir until the yeast is completely dissolved. Add the basil, pepper, salt, and 1 cup each of the bread flour and the 12-grain flour. Beat well (about 150 strokes by hand or three minutes with an electric mixer). Stir in the cheese and zucchini. Add another cup of bread flour and cup of 12-grain flour; beat well. Add enough of the remaining bread flour to make a thick batter that is still easy to manage. Stir until all flour is thoroughly incorporated. Use a rubber spatula to make sure there are no pockets of flour on the bottom of the bowl.

Cover with a clean towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place about 1 hour. Thoroughly grease two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans. Stir the batter down. Divide the batter between pans. It should fill each pan halfway. Cover and let rise about 20 minutes or until dough nearly reaches the top of the pan. If desired, sprinkle about a tablespoon of pine nuts on the top of each loaf just before baking.

While dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake about 45 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean and top crust feels solid. Let cool slightly in pans before attempting to remove loaves. Note: If top crust browns too quickly due to the cheese, tent some aluminum foil over it to slow the browning process.