Artisan Gouda & Prosciutto Bread

One of my culinary goals for 2013 is to bake more bread. I'm not talking quick breads; rather yeasted doughs that, while they take more time to put together, are worth the effort. To kick off this year's effort, I tested a bacon-cheese bread from the Noblepig.com blog. As the recipe promised, the dough came together quickly and didn't require any kneading. I didn't even get to break out my trusty Kitchen Aid dough hook! As usual, I was not able to find any cheddar cheese, so I swapped it out with an aged Gouda, achieving what I deem are with tasty results. I also used prosciutto instead of bacon. I diced it up then fried it until crispy before adding it to the dough along with the cheese. The recipe produces two good sized loafs. Because the dough can be refrigerated I baked one over the weekend then the other one later in the week. It turns out that there is nothing better than a fresh baked loaf of bread on a weeknight (or weekday morning). ARTISAN GOUDA & PROSCIUTTO BREAD 10 slices thick cut bacon or prosciutto, diced 8 ounces shredded aged Gouda cheese 2 tablespoons granulated yeast 3 cups lukewarm water 5 1/2 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt 1 tablespoon butter 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal 1) Cook the bacon or prosciutto over medium heat until brown and crunchy. Place on a paper towel- lined plate to drain. Set aside. 2) Add the yeast to a large ceramic bowl. Pour in the warm water and stir to combine with a wooden spoon. Add the flour and salt. 3) Mix with the wooden spoon until the flour and salt are fully wet. Add the cheese and bacon/prosciutto to the dough and stir until fully combined. 4) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise for at least 3 hours. After 3 hours place the dough in the refrigerator overnight. 5) When ready to bake, place a metal baking pan on the bottom rack of the oven. Fill it with water. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. 6) Meanwhile, butter the bottom of an 11 x 17 inch baking tray and sprinkle the cornmeal over the butter to prevent the break from sticking. 7) Divide the dough into two even loaves, shaping each into a ball. Place on the baking tray, several inches apart. Sprinkle the dough generously with flour. (You can also bake one at a time, saving the dough in the refrigerator for another day). 8) Let rest on the baking tray for 30 minutes. Right before placing in the oven, score the top of the bread with an "x" or other decorative mark, cutting right through the dough. 9) Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 15 minutes before slicing.

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