This summer, we stumbled across a Greek pasta recipe that quickly became Aidan’s favorite. It’s a really simple dish that involves tossing penne with a mixture of fresh tomatoes, green onions, feta cheese, olive oil, parsley, and about a 1/4 cup of fresh dill. It gives you onion breath for the rest of the day, but it is seriously tasty, especially for how little work it requires. When summer rolls around again, I think I’m going to have to try some container gardening to grow plum tomatoes and dill just so that we can eat this pasta all the time again without breaking the bank.
It was almost always cheaper to buy the dill in huge bunches, which means that we often ended up with a ton of dill on hand. Sometimes this meant that we just made more Greek pasta. But one time, I decided to try out a bread recipe for dill bread I remembered seeing on Smitten Kitchen. The result was seriously the best bread I’ve made to date.
This bread gets its kick from the red onion and fresh dill kneaded into the dough, but the real “secret” ingredient with this recipe is the cup of cottage cheese that goes into the dough. High percentages of protein tend to yield softer breads, and that is certainly the case with the recipe, which could easily be used for the best savory sandwich bread ever.
I absolutely love bread. I’ll eat good bread straight from the cutting board all day long if I don’t stop myself. Aidan is not so much of the same mindset, but he loved this bread. He ate multiple pieces the night I baked it, made himself a huge sandwich with it the next day, and cried when it was all gone. (Oops. I got carried away. Just kidding about that last part.) He was especially a fan of the sea salt-topped crust.
I also thought this was some fantastically delicious bread, but I was even more excited to make a dough that rose beautifully and that had so much oven spring it basically burst out of the pan and created a towering loaf of goodness. God, I love excess. Screw all of those dense, no-spring wheat breads I played around with last year, only to confirm the fact that I really do not like wheat bread at all.
This bread has been waiting to be blogged since the beginning of September, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t made any bread since this loaf. It’s definitely time to change that and add bread making to my weekend to-do list.
I adapted this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, where it was adapted from The Joy of Cooking. If you’re new to baking bread, the SK post that featured this dill bread recipe has a number of really great bread baking tips. It’s a post that I’ve referred to often and would highly recommend. The original recipe calls for bread flour, which I didn’t have on hand so I subbed all-purpose flour and added a tablespoon of vital wheat gluten. Using all-purpose flour will yield a slightly softer crumb while using bread flour should result in a slightly chewier crumb. As a final note, I always leave about 1/4 of the flour called for in a bread recipe on the side to add in as necessary while I’m kneading the dough. You don’t want to add too much flour to the dough or you will end up with a dense loaf.
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water (around 11o degrees)
- 3 c all-purpose flour (see note above)
- 1 tbsp vital wheat gluten (optional)
- 1/2 c chopped red onion
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh dill
- 1 tbsp wheat germ
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 c cottage cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/2 tsp coarse salt
- Combine water and yeast in a small bowl or measuring glass and let stand about five minutes.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, wheat gluten, onion, dill, wheat germ, and salt. Add yeast mixture, honey, cottage cheese and egg to flour mixture. Mix by hand in the bowl until the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. At this point, the dough should not stick to your fingers and hands but should still feel slightly tacky to the touch. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover the bowl with a lightly greased piece of plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until doubled in volume, which should take between 1 1/2 and 2 hours. (Although if, like me, you keep your house on the cooler side in winter and/or have a drafty kitchen, the first rise may take longer.)
- Turn dough out onto floured surface, press down to deflate the dough, shape into a loaf, and place the dough seam-side-down in a greased 9×5 loaf pan. (I actually used an 8×4 pan, which is how I ended up with the towering loaf of goodness pictured above.) Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and let loaf rise until doubled in size, about an hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. When dough is finished with it’s second rise, brush the top of the loaf with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf reads about 200 degrees. Allow loaf to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.