Whole-Wheat Cheddar Bread
The ultimate in homemade bread. Recipe courtesy of Bob Titterton, author of The Vermont Home Cookbook. Yield: 2 loaves
1 packet dried yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 cups whole-wheat flour—preferably stone-ground
4 teaspoons salt
1 cup grated 2-year Grafton Cheddar (2½ ounces)
3¼ cups warm water
In a small bowl mix together yeast, sugar and ¼ cup warm water. Leave in a warm place to get foamy while you measure the remaining ingredients.Sift together the white flour and whole-wheat flour with the salt into a large bowl. Rub the grated cheese into the flour and make a well in the center. Pour in 3 cups water, the yeast mixture, and work into rubbery dough of medium consistency. Knead for 5 minutes, cover, and place in a warm, draft free place to rise. When it has at least doubled in volume, punch it down and turn onto a counter lightly dusted with flour.Cut the dough in half, and shape into loaves. Place in lightly oiled baking pans. For rectangular loaves, pat the dough into a rectangle, roll it like a jellyroll, and place seam-side down in a loaf pan. For round loaves use pie tins for baking. Shape the loaves by gathering the dough underneath all around, and place seam side down in the tin.
Sprinkle the loaves with a little flour, cover, and leave in a warm place until doubled. Uncover, and slash the loaves with a razor blade or very sharp knife, cutting ½ inch deep the length of the loaf.
Preheat oven to 400° F
When the oven is hot, place the loaves on the center shelf and bake for 40 minutes. Turn the bread from the pans onto a wire rack to cool. Cool to room temperature before slicing.
When completely cool, seal the bread in plastic bags. If you are not going to eat it within a day or so, freeze it so you can enjoy it later when you do not have time to bake. Remove it from the plastic wrap and allow it to thaw on a wire rack. This will help restore some of that chewy, crispy quality found in the crust of freshly baked bread. And, of course, it will be exceptional when toasted.