Have you always wanted to try making yeast bread but it seems a bit scary? Maybe baking at 7,500 feet in elevation seems like a lofty goal? 

Well, guess what! It’s national Bread Day! And I have a super-simple, garlic-y, cheesy, buttery loaf of deliciousness that is the perfect gateway dough into the world of yeast breads! This recipe is perfect for beginners or if you are in a pinch for time because there is no rising time here.  There are two 15 minute periods of “resting” opposed to “rising."  I’ll explain this a little bit more when we get to that step.  This bread can be started and finished in about an hour and a half, which may seem like a long time but it’s not all active hands-on time.  Plus, if you’ve tried to make yeast bread before, you know that an hour and a half is usually how long it takes for the first round or rising!  So start to finish in an hour and a half? Not too bad at all.   

My name is Abi, by the way.  I am the partner and group development manager for Visit Estes Park by day and messy, wild, bread-baker by night!  This is my very first blog post and I hope to keep bringing you scrumptious recipes as we dive into the floury world of high altitude baking!  So, grab your dough hook and let’s get baking! 

 

Recipe Overview:

Ingredients:

Just over 1 cup of warm water

2 tablespoons of honey

2 teaspoons of dry-active yeast

7 tablespoons of butter (divided, 1 tablespoon softened)

2 teaspoons of kosher salt

5-5.5 cups of all-purpose unbleached flour

2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley

2 cloves of minced garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

.25 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

.25 cup of mozzarella cheese

Equipment:

Stand mixer with dough hook

           or

Large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon and a little bit of muscle for kneading

8x4x2.5 inch loaf pan

            or

9x5x3 inch loaf pan, if you use this size it won’t bubble over the top but it will still make a tasty loaf!

Pastry brush

Baking sheet with rim

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 355 degrees
  2. Pour 1 cup of warm water (100-110 degrees) into the bowl of stand mixer (or large mixing bowl if doing it by hand) and dissolve 2 tablespoons of honey into warm water.
  3. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of dry active yeast over the water and honey mixture and let sit for 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes, use a whisk to dissolve the yeast into the honey water mixture and let sit another 5 minutes, or until you see bubbles forming on top.
  4. Add 2.75 cups of properly measured flour, 2 teaspoons of kosher salt*, and 1 tablespoon of softened butter on top of the water, yeast, and honey mixture. (*Always put the salt on top of the flour so that it doesn’t come into contact with the yeast,  salt will kill the yeast if it touches it directly.)
  5. Using your dough hook (or wooden spoon if mixing by hand) slowly mix the ingredients until they just come together. 
  6. Slowly add in 2-2.5 cups of flour and mix on low for about 5 minutes, if kneading by hand, closer to 8-10 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 15 minutes.
  7. While your dough is resting, melt together 6 tablespoons of butter, garlic, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Butter loaf pan.
  9. After dough has rested, snip off little chunks of the dough and form into balls.  Repeat with half of the dough until the bottom of the pan is covered.
  10. Brush half of garlic butter mixture over the dough balls.  Sprinkle with half of the Parmesan and half of the mozzarella.
  11. Repeat snipping and forming the rest of the dough, place the balls on top of the first layer, then brush with remaining garlic butter, and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  12. Allow the loaf to rest for an additional 15 minutes.
  13. Bake the dough for 25-38 minutes; keep an eye on it after 25 minutes.  You want the top to be a nice golden brown color and the internal temperature to be 205-210 degrees.  I use my trusty digital meat thermometer.
  14. Allow the bread to cool in pan for about 10 minutes and then carefully invert on to a cooling rack.  Dig right in!  This bread is best when it is fresh out of the oven and the cheese is still melty!
  15. Share with someone!  Love people, bake them tasty bread!

 

The Play by Play:

First things first- let’s talk about measuring.  If you are still scooping your flour out of the bag using the measuring cup, we need to talk. This is not okay!  Especially at a high altitude!  If you like using a measuring cup (opposed to weighing your ingredients) please, please, PLEASE use a spoon to scoop the flour from the bag and then pour it into measuring cup.  When we scoop directly from the bag, it tends to compact the flour or crush it down, resulting in way too much flour in the bread which makes a dense and hard loaf.  Who wants a dense loaf when we can get a tasty little pillow like this? 

 

Loaf of Bread

 

Step one:  Let’s get those little yeasty beasties alive!  Water temperature is very important here.  Too hot of water and you’ll kill the tiny guys, too cool of water and they will remain dormant.  So give these little Goldilocks what they want and need: warm water.  I have found that anything in between 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit will do the trick.  I like to use a meat thermometer just to be sure.  You will also see that I have just over a cup of water.  At this altitude we need to account for the dry air which results in quicker evaporation, so solve that issue by adding just a smidge of extra water.  Pour the cup of warm water into the bowl of your stand mixer or if you aren’t using a stand mixer, a large mixing bowl.

Mixer and Measuring cup Image 

 

Now that we have given them an environment to live in, let’s make sure they have something to eat when they get there!  Yeast love sugars, so go ahead and add 2 tablespoons of honey to the water in the mixing bowl and whisk until dissolved. 

Welcome home little fellows!  Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of active yeast over the water and let it sit for 5 minutes.  The yeast will start to dissolve and create a thin layer over the water. After 5 minutes, take your whisk and mix the yeast into the water and honey.  Leave it sit for another 5.

  Yeast in Bowl

Look at all of that life!  Those little bubbles are created by the yeast!  You may have more bubbles than I did, you may have less.  Just make sure you aren’t using expired yeast that has been in the back of your pantry.

Next add 2.75 cups of properly measured flour, 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, and 1 tablespoon of softened butter.  If you like herbs and spices, add them in!  Maybe a dash of garlic powder, a little bit of dried oregano and basil?  Whatever suits your fancy! 

Mixing bowl full of flour

Using your dough hook or a large wooden spoon, slowly mix the ingredients until they just come together.   

Mixer mixing ingredients

 

Then slowly add in an additional 2.5 cups of properly measured flour.  A little note on this, add the first 2 cups slowly and then determine if you need the additional .5 cup.  If the weather has been dry (which it has been) you may not need the extra .5 cup. You want your dough to be slightly sticky but in one mass.  I mixed the dough on low for about 5 minutes.  I told you this was easy!  

Mixed dough in bowl 

Scrape down the sides, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let your little dough ball relax for about 15 minutes.  Relaxing the dough allows proteins in the flour hydrate, and this process allows for gluten to form.  Gluten is not a bad word, I promise!  Gluten is what gives bread its incredible texture and helps keeps its shape while baking. 

It doesn’t look like much of a difference but you’ll notice the difference in texture after allowing the dough to rest.

 

Resting dough

 

Now butter up that loaf pan! 

Bread Pan

 

This is where things get a little buttery……melt six tablespoons of butter (this is National Bread Day, not National Health Day) chopped fresh parsley, salt and pepper to taste, and 2 cloves of minced garlic over low heat until you get this golden liquid of the gods.

Butter melting

Now we are going to make dough balls!  Remember your dough that was just chillin’?  Using half of your dough, snip off little chunks and form into balls.  No need to go crazy here, they don’t have to be perfect because we are going to drench them in our garlic butter mixture and cheese! By forming the dough into balls, it gives plenty of nooks and crannies for the garlic butter and cheese to hang out in.  That way every bite is buttery, cheesy and tasty!  

Dough Balls

Cover the bottom of the pan with one layer.

Now take that garlic butter and brush those little babies! 

Brushing dough Balls with Butter

A little sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese?  Sure, why not? 

Cheese added to dough 

Well if we are adding Parmesan, we can’t not invite his bud mozzarella!  A little sprinkle of that!

Cheese added to the bread 

That was so much fun, we should do it again!  Roll your remaining dough into balls and let’s add a second layer.

 

Dough balls being layered

 

Brush the top layer with the remaining garlic butter, sprinkle with Parmesan and mozzarella cheese.

Pre baked bread 

And look at that!  It’s not even cooked yet and it looks and smells delicious.  We are going to let the dough rest again for about 15 minutes.  This gives the gluten another chance to form plus I like to think that the dough balls are taking a nice, relaxing, butter bath. 

In the meantime get that oven up and running!  A little secret to bread baking: a hot oven is everything.  355 degrees will do the trick for this bread.  At high altitude, I up the temperature of my oven for any baked good.  So if you have a recipe that calls for 350 degrees, bump it up to 355.  I wish I could explain the science behind this one, but this is just a little trick that got passed on to me.  I typically like to preheat my oven an hour before I put bread in it.  Make sure to put your loaf pan on a sheet pan.  That butter likes to ooze out and there is nothing worse than a smoky kitchen from an oven mishap! 

After your oven is nice and toasty, pop in in there and close the door as quickly as possible!  We want to keep as much of that heat in there as we can.  Now, the waiting is the hardest part. Don’t open the oven door!  Only open the door when checking the internal temperature towards the end of the baking period. Mine was done in exactly 36 minutes. Depending on your oven, it could be done in as little as 25 minutes! Keep an eye on it, you want to pull it out of the oven when the internal temperature is 205-210 degrees and the top is a nice golden brown color.    Allow the bread to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.  Then carefully invert the pan to release the loaf and place it on a cooling rack. 

 

Bread baked on tray

I wish I could tell you to wait until it has completely cooled, but I don’t have the self-control for that kind of nonsense.  Dig right in! 

Bread being pulled away

Look at that beautiful airy, light, fluffy, cheesy bread!!! This is super simple yeast bread that is perfect for beginners and masters alike.  Follow the steps and tricks and you too can make delicious garlic-y, cheesy yeast bread! 

Be sure to share with someone!  Love people, bake them tasty bread! 

Close up of bread being pulled apart

I couldn’t resist adding this cheesy money shot!