Here’s an easy, delicious, and gorgeous recipe i tried for the first time and was pretty successful! Taken from my old Betty Crocker International Cookbook. When i posted it on facebook, a friend noted that it would make a great Challah bread for Shabbat and some of YHWH’s Feasts! Unbeknowst to me at the time, the little write up for the recipe in the cookbook suggested exactly that!
French Cheese Braid
“The rich yellow dough used to make this braid (the French call it natte) is similar to the Jewish holiday bread called Challah, but somewhat richer in flavor and flecked with bits of cheese. It is delicious as a luncheon or light supper bread served with soup and salad.”
1 package active dry yeast (i use 1 tablespoon)
3/4 cup warm water (105F to 115F)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon Real salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
6 ounces Swiss or Gruyère cheese, shredded or diced (about 1 1/2 cups) (i use mozzarella or cheddar)
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons water
Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl. Stir in sugar, salt, eggs, butter, and 2 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to make the dough easy to handle.
Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. (I use my Kitchenaid mixer with a dough hook). Place in a greased bowl; turn greased side up. (i spray the dough and bowl with my Misto olive oil sprayer and leave the dough in the same mixing bowl). Cover; let rise in a warm place until double, 1 to 2 hours. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched. (If you can’t find a warm spot in your house, set the bowl in a bowl or pan of hot water)
Punch down dough; knead in cheese until well distributed. Divide into 3 equal parts. Roll each part into a rope, 15 inches long. Place ropes together on lightly greased cookie sheet. Braid ropes gently and loosely; do not stretch. Pinch ends to fasten; tuck under securely. Brush lightly with oil. Let rise until double, 40-50 mintues. (May have to set your sheet on top of the pan of hot water again)
Heat oven to 375F, Beat egg yolk and 2 tablespoons water slighty; brush over braid. Place on oven rack below center of oven. Bake until braid sounds hollow when tapped, 25 to 30 minutes. If braid is browning too quickly, cover loosely with aluminum foil.
My experience is that this baked fully at 25 minutes and the braid needs covering at about the 18 minute mark.
This is perfect bread to accompany soup!