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Everyone needs a go-to recipe. I mean the kind of recipe you can rely on when you’re hosting unexpected dinner guests in a couple hours and can’t get to the store. Or the sort of recipe that rescues your hiney when you’ve spent the entire day on one subject with the kids (for my fellow homeschoolers) or running around to five hundred million different places (for everyone) and haven’t spent two minutes thinking about dinner. I’m talking about the recipe that can be made entirely from pantry staples. I refer to the chameleon recipe that goes with everything. I am telling you about (drumroll please…) Asiago Herb and Garlic Bread.
We’ve been doing standardized testing this week for the big boys and lemme tell you, they’ve not been thrilled. They stress over questions they don’t know even though I’ve told them repeatedly that they are expected to miss things on a standardized test. I have no idea whatsoever where they got their perfectionist tendencies. I am so sanguine and never, ever obsessive compulsive over results.*
*I’d like to throw an idea out there for any braniacs or creative types who read my blog. Could someone PLEASE come up with a ‘Sarcastic Font’ that could be used universally? And then could you do the work to get it accepted, recognized and widely used? It would be so much easier than italicizing every other word when I’m trying to force my keyboard to drip sarcasm… Thank you!
During testing week, the boyos require a little more, er, understanding. They’re cranky with themselves, crabby with The Evil Genius and me, and absolutely foul-tempered toward each other. I’ve only found two things that ameliorate some of the short fuses; food and one VERY effective threat*. Both approaches need to be used for either of them to work well. The food has to be served much like Chicago style voting; early and often. And the threat? Well, don’t judge me until you’ve walked a mile in my Crocs, but I threaten to make them sit on the couch facing each other while holding hands and singing, “Kumbaya”. It works like a charm. (Another friend recently informed me that she made her now grown sons hold hands in a circle while reciting, “How blessed it is when brothers live together in unity.” I’m keeping that one handy for future reference.)
Oh, how the food flowed this week… And by the time we got to evening before last, the cupboards were showing the strain. Naturally, I hadn’t planned anything for dinner and I realized this at 3 o’clock. ACK!
The inspiration for this bread comes from a recipe that I’ve been preparing for years: Cuban Bread (from ‘The Tightwad Gazette: Volume II’, Amy Dacyzyn). This recipe always appealed to me because it is prepared, rested, baked and ready to stuff in my face in an hour and a half. It has a simple, honest bread flavor that just happens to be very budget friendly. And that made it the perfect candidate to accompany a quick, monstrously huge pot of spaghetti last night. But last night, simple honest bread just wasn’t cutting it for me. I wanted something spectacular… And messing with the recipe yielded one of the most delicious breads I’ve ever had. Ever.
The addition of indecent quantities of Asiago cheese, Italian herbs, and garlic turned humble Cuban Bread into the most gorgeous brown, cheese-crusted and cheese-studded, herbed, garlic bread I’ve ever had the pleasure of tearing apart with my teeth. We consumed all but five slices of the bread in less than twenty minutes. It was so good that I dreamed about it. The next morning I used the remaining slices of bread to make “Toads in a hole” for breakfast. Then I started another batch of the bread. It was done and out of the oven just in time to send a loaf home with my kind-hearted and prolific-gardener friend, Deb, who brought some extra seedlings she had started for our garden.
I don’t want to hear anyone saying, “But I don’t bake bread!” This bread is so easy to make that it is almost impossible to mess up. I’m serious. You can mix it by hand, in a stand mixer or in a food processor. There’s no preheating the oven or multiple rises to this bread. It is as easy as it gets. But, oh, the payoff!
I refuse to tell you how many batches of this bread I’ve made since Monday. We’ve eaten it plain (if such a loaf can be called plain), buttered and/or as toast. You’ve never tasted such toast as that made with this bread, I tell you! My backside is evidence of how many slices of this bread I’ve consumed while sitting at the table proctoring tests…
…But tests are now done! I’m in proud Mama mode with both the kids and this bread. If you’ve just finished up the school year drop me an email or find me on Facebook. I’m there. Even if only to freak my kids out a little. No kids? Send me a picture of pets, your favorite book or a loaf of freshly baked bread! I love you hear from you all.
And I’m in the mood for celebrating. I’m going to whip up another batch of this bread but I’m feeling pretty punchy and I’m not sure that’ll suffice. Hey! A giveaway might just do it… So, to celebrate the end of this round of schooling, the end of testing and the discovery of Asiago Herb and Garlic Bread I’m going to give away a bunch of goodies!
This Calphalon Commercial Hard-Anodized 12″ Everyday Pan with Lid! This is my favorite pan in my kitchen. I use it *gasp* everyday! Were those Calphalon folks clever when the named it or what? It can’t be beat for versatility and it’s heavy enough to stop an intruder when applied to the intruder’s head. It’s suitable for stovetop, oven and broiler cooking. I make spaghetti sauce, baked fish, bacon, and all other sorts of things in it. Since it’s hard-anodized it’s non-reactive and it doesn’t absorb or impart odors or off flavors.
…and since I’m still feeling giddy, I’m also giving away a copy of the book that inspired the heaven-sent bread: The Complete Tightwad Gazette, by Amy Dacyzyn. This book is the last word in thrifty living. While no one really expects to adopt EVERY suggestion in the book, there are countless tricks and common sense approaches to cutting the fluff from a budget. It’s an awfully helpful and nice resource to have on the shelf.
While I’m at it, I’ll throw in one of my favorite, low-tech kitchen gadgets: The Oxo Pastry Scraper (bench knife). This little thing separates bread dough, cleans up gummy countertops, helps remove recalcitrant pastry crust or cookie dough from surfaces and whacks a calzone in half in less than two shakes of a hummingbird’s wing.
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Asiago Herb and Garlic Bread
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 1- 1/2 cups plus 2/3 cup grated Asiago cheese, divided
- 2 Tablespoons dry yeast
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon dried Italian Seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried Rosemary
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (adjust up or down according to heat preference)
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic (optional)
- 2 cups hot tap water (around 120-130 degrees)
- 4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus a little for the bowl
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, 1-1/2 cups grated Asiago, yeast, sugar, salt, Italian seasoning, rosemary, red pepper flakes, onion and garlic powder.
(If using a food processor, simply add those dry ingredients to the food processor bowl and pulse 5 times.) Pour in the hot water and stir 100 times (That is equal to 3 minutes with a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. If using the food processor, drizzle the water in while the machine is running until the dough forms a ball.)
Knead the dough for 8 minutes (If using stand mixer with a dough hook, allow to mix on low for 4 minutes. If using the food processor, allow the ball to spin 20 times.) Form the dough into a rough ball.
Drizzle some olive oil into a bowl. I just carry on using the mixing bowl of my stand mixer. Feel free to dirty another dish, though…
Place dough into the bowl and flip over, so both sides are lightly coated with olive oil.
Cover with a damp tea towel or paper towel.
Allow to rise for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, the dough will be puffy.
Punch down dough.
Divide into two equal pieces. Form the dough into rounds. To make a nice tight ball, pull the top of the dough over and down the sides of the wad of dough. Then, tuck under the excess. Voila! Tight dough balls! Place about 6 inches apart on an ungreased, rimmed baking sheet. Gently pat the dough rounds down so they are relatively flat on top.
Use a sharp knife to slash an ‘x’ about 1/4″ deep over the tops of the loaves.
Drizzle each loaf with about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil.
Then top each loaf with about 1/3 cup additional grated Asiago. Really pack that cheese on there. I wouldn’t judge if you decided to go with more like 1/2 a cup…
This is DEFINITELY one time when less is NOT more! (Go on. Put more cheese on that dough!)
Place baking sheet in a cold oven over a cake or loaf pan filled with hot tap water.
Set oven to 400°F. As soon as you turn the oven on, set your timer for 40 minutes. Begin checking the bread when the timer goes off. If it is still light colored, pop it back in the oven. You may need as much as 10 more minutes.If bread is a gorgeous deep golden brown, remove it. See this loaf? It’s perfect in every possible way except for one. That one is that I haven’t eaten it yet.
Remove the bread and serve hot, warm or room temperature. This is one bread that tastes great any way you slice it!
This is an amazing bread recipe. I use it all the time and alter what flavours I make it into or add to it and it still comes out great. Quick, easy, fast ,and delicious. Great fresh and also freezes really really well. I’m not usually a commenter but decided I should start because I know I read the reviews on various recipes looking for answers to questions etc. so thank you for this. I think a lot of people too look for bread they can make for their meal for the night and end up giving up with all the rise times etc that most take or the days of procedures to get breads just right so this is a great go to. Pairs great with pasta. Also great great great to dip in herbed or flavoured olive oil and/or balsamic combos 🙂
Thanks so much, Emilia!! I’m so glad you love it and I’m so grateful you took the time to let me know!
This bread is absolutely delicious! I have made it many, many times and it’s very easy to make.
That makes me so happy, Lee! Thanks for taking the time to let me know you love it!
Oh no, I have made your recipe several times but this time I forgot the salt. A fatal mistake! Perhaps I’ll be making croutons with this loaf. Sigh.
Oh no! Well, taste it before writing it off. 😉 That cheese might help!
So I finally got around to making this recipe and the cheese on top came out almost burnt? Should I have went with a finer grated cheese or did I miss where to put aluminum over top the loafs?
Hi Talacia- It sounds like perhaps it was too close to the top of the oven. Do you have a very small oven? Or was the rack up near the top or upper third of the oven? Let’s see if we can figure out how to fix this for you!
Yes I didn’t realize it at the time but I had moved my main rack all the way to the top as I was using the bottom racks a couple of days before to make meringue cookies. So I’m retrying the recipe to hopefully do your recipe justice.
Though even if it still Is a little too brown my coworkers will still eat it lol!
can i bake this in loaf pans and if so what temperature and time?
Hi Ken- You can absolutely bake this in loaf pans at the same temperature, but I don’t have a time for you on that, unfortunately. I’d advise you to play around with the timing a bit, and maybe even take the internal temp of your loaf. When it’s done it’ll reach between 190°F and 200°F.
The bread is in the oven now. Smelled good before I even put it in the oven, maybe because I used fresh rosemary and garlic cloves in the dough. I also topped it with garlic and melted butter along with a little olive oil and asiago. Yum!
OMG, I left Michigan a year ago, I had a bad Asiago beagle and bread habit. had to have the beagle every morning on the way to work. The closest Panera to me is more than an hour away and I won’t drive that far, Have really been missing them, Found and baked this and I can not believe how easy and how freaking good it was, Thanks so much. Now the weight will never come back off.
Here’s a scarcasm font: http://www.notascoolasitseems.com/review/sarcasm-font
KitchenAid K45SS says
I made this bread over the weekend and my 3 year old who is very picky about food in general loved it. One more item to add to our must-have food arsenal. Thank you so much for sharing.
I have a 7-week-old and a three-year old, and I’m proud to say I made this bread tonight. Thank goodness for naptime, but this was so easy I *could* have made it with baby in tow (except the part where I haul the stand mixer up out of the cupboard). Rave reviews from my husband and 3yo, baby will vote later. 😉 I especially like that it makes two loaves! I might leave out the red pepper flakes next time and try to fit more cheese on top (hah!) but this was FANTASTIC.
I made this bread yesterday and it turned out soooo good. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe with all of us! My whole family LOVED it!
I made this last night…it was in the recipe printout pile on my sink for a while so I’m not sure how I found it lol. It was FAB! I subbed in 4c whole wheat flour and 2c unbleached white…I was low on Asiago so I saved that for the top and subbed in feta and parmesean. I mixed it in the morning and let it sit all day cause I didn’t trust that I’d have enough time to get it all done in the evening. Served with fresh made lemon linguini topped with crab alfredo. Everyone was in heaven. This is a keeper.
Cibaria Oils says
Just stumbled upon this recipe looking for a good Asiago Bread! I’m so glad I found your blog! Looking forward to reading a lot more from you. Take care!
Made it for dinner tonight with fresh garden salad, homemade honey mustard dressing and spagetti with fresh marinara.I followed the recipe exactly.the result was amazing.We polished off the first loaf. I am glad I did not half the recipe, looking forward to sandwiches with fresh mozarella, roasted red pepper pesto with basil vinegrette.
I was wondering if the same technique( quick rise and cold oven would work with other breads?).
thanks again for the wonderful recipe.
Mona- I’m so glad you liked it. I have changed out cheeses and add-ins with this same dough recipe but I haven’t gone much beyond that. Did you have any specific type of dough in mind? Let me know if you play with it!
Elizabeth Rogers says
This bread is easy and delicious! I made it on Father’s Day and served as a pick-up appetizer with olive tapenade while I finished cooking. Thank you!
oooh the bread looks so yummy. wishing you and yours a lovely weekend..and congratulations to the winner of your drawing.:0)
Oopsie, I did it again. I seem to duplicate my post here all the time. Sorry about that. The link didn’t work so here it is again, http://www.flickr.com/photos/39156567@N07/3610785357/sizes/o/