Lots of folk have a set of these fun shaped tubes for making little loaves of bread for parties – many, like my favorite sister, probably picked up a set at one of those home shopping gatherings for cool foods and gadgets that you then never, ever get around to using.
Which is really kindofa bummer, because this bread is wicked simple to make with the help of a stand mixer, and the fun shaped loaves are pretty darned tasty, and very popular at gatherings. So, win, win, right?
This version calls for adding some chopped pepperoni and grated Cheddar cheese to the loaves; but you could skip that and just add two tablespoons of melted butter instead.
•1/3 cup warm (110º) water
•1 tsp sugar
•2-1/4 tsp dry yeast
•1 cup milk
•1 tsp salt
•2/3 cup grated Cheddar cheese
•2/3 cup finely chopped pepperoni*
•3 to 4 cups flour
*Or, really, use any meat you like, salami, Capicola, or other meat.
Stir the yeast together with the water and sugar in a measuring cup and set aside to rest for ten minutes, until the mixture is foamy.
Combine the milk and salt together in the bowl of a stand mixer, then stir in the yeast mixture, the pepperoni, and the cheese, along with 2-1/2 cups of the flour until blended.
With the mixer on low, add as much of the additional flour as is needed to form a soft dough.
Increase the speed to medium and add enough of the remaining flour for the mixture to come together into a ball. I used three cups plus two tablespoons of flour in all for this batch, but the amount of flour needed for dough to come together can and will vary.
Knead for seven minutes, until smooth, then transfer the dough into a lightly oiled bowl – turning the dough to oil all sides – cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm spot for 60 to 90 minutes, until the dough has risen to double its size.
Note: remember: you are the boss of that dough. Something come up and you can’t get back to it in 60 to 90 minutes? Not a problem. The dough will be there when to can get back to it, and really no worse for the wait.
Apply cooking spray to two bread molds and preheat the oven to 400º. I used the flower and heart shaped tubes, mostly because I’ve misplaced the round one. I know it’s around somewhere, but, I needed to party bread pans and I had two; worked for me.
Punch the risen dough down, divide in half, and roll each half into a log about two inches shorter than the bread mold.
Insert the dough into the prepared molds, cap each end, and bake for one hour.
Cool on a wire rack.
Slice the bread, or place the loaves on a board with a bread knife and allow folk to slice their own.
Nice with a dab o’ butter, and really very, very good with a schmear of cream cheese topped with Persian cucumber and sliced red onion.