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Parmesan Wheat Bread

[1]As I was making this bread, I kept thinking to myself, “this is such a pain in the butt. There is no way this will be worth the effort.” Then it came out of the oven. Now, I think I’ll be making this recipe at least once a week! It was amazing — light and full of air and not at all grainy. The parmesan taste is really subtle, but it gives the bread’s flavor a really nice kick.

Now, let me explain why this recipe was a (worthwhile) pain. Using whole wheat flour alone (as opposed to all purpose flour, or a mix of the two) means that the dough will take a long time to rise. In order to get the dough to rise, I had to crank up the heat in my apartment, while the oven was preheating, and leave them on my kitchen table in the hot sun with the shades open. At one point, my thermometer read 102 degrees on the table! Needless to say, kind of a pain. Plus, the water has to be 120 to 130 degrees when you add it to the dry ingredients — my sink can’t get water that hot, so I had to microwave it and then test the temperature again. Again, annoying. But, I swear, one bite of the finished product was enough to make me swear by this recipe. I’ve put some tips into the directions to make it easier, if others want to try it!
[2]Parmesan Wheat Bread

2 1/2 cups of 100% whole wheat flour
1 cup of hot water (120 to 130 degrees)
1 package of yeast (11 grams)
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Mix flour, salt, sugar, and yeast.
3. Turn on faucet until water is as hot as it gets. Measure temperature. If temperature is below 120 degrees, measure a cup of water and pour into a microwaveable bowl. Microwave on high for 40 seconds, and take temperature again. Repeat if water is not 120 degrees.
4. Add water to the flour mixture and knead until blended. Add parmesan cheese and knead for 2-3 minutes more, or until blended.
5. Place the dough in a greased bowl, coating all sides of dough. Cover bowl with saran wrap, and let rise somewhere warm for 30 minutes, or until dough has doubled in size.
6. Punch down dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough flat into a 12″x18″ rectangle. Cut dough in half to form two 12″x9″ rectangles. Roll up each half of dough tightly, creating a 12″ log. Continue to roll until log is16″ long, and cut in half. Repeat for both halves of dough (creating four 8″ rolls).
7. Place each roll 3 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Make deep diagonal slashes across loaves every 2 inches. Cover with saran wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 40 minutes, or until doubled again.
8. Pour one cup of water into a second baking dish, and place in preheated oven.
9. Bake bread for 20 to 25 minutes, or until tops of loaves are just starting to brown.

Makes four 8″ mini-loaves.