Perfect as is or lightly toasted, this bread makes wonderful tea sandwiches or more substantial ones.
Makes one 9 x 5 x 5-inch loaf
1/2 cup warm tap water about 110ºF
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) fine granulated active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk, scalded and cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 2/3 cups unbleached bread flour (spoon into dry-measure cup and level)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 or 5 pieces and softened
1 loosely packed cup coarsely grated Swiss Gruyère
1 cup walnut pieces, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces and lightly toasted
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, optional
One 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan, buttered or oiled
- Once the milk has cooled, pour the water into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment and whisk in the yeast. Wait 1 minute, then whisk again to make sure the yeast is completely dissolved. Whisk in the cooled milk and the sugar.
- Use a large rubber spatula to stir in about half of the flour. Stir in the rest in 3 or 4 additions to form a rough dough in which there is no longer any unmoistened flour.
- Place the bowl on the mixer and use the dough hook to beat the dough on medium speed until it’s somewhat smoother but not perfectly smooth, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes.
- Mix the dough on low/medium speed and sprinkle in the salt, then add the butter a couple of pieces at a time. Continue mixing, increasing the speed to medium until the dough is smoother and more elastic, about 2 additional minutes. On low speed, beat in the cheese, nuts, and optional pepper until well dispersed throughout the dough.
- Scrape the dough into an oiled bowl and turn it over so that the top is oiled. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough ferment until it is increased about 50% over its original size.
- Invert the dough to a floured surface and press it into a thick disk. Fold one side over the center, then fold the other side over that. Roll the dough down from the top, jellyroll style, to the other end.
- Repeat step 6, turning the dough 90 degrees before you fold it.
- Return the dough to the bowl seam side down and cover. Let it ferment until fully double, about 30 to 45 minutes.
- Invert the dough to a floured surface and pull it into a rectangle about the same length as the loaf pan. Tightly roll down from the top and seal the edge, pinching it in place. Place the dough into the prepared pan seam side down and cover it with oiled or sprayed plastic wrap. Let the loaf proof until it comes an inch above the rim of the pan, about an hour.
- Once the dough is almost to the top of the pan, set a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Once fully proofed, uncover and bake the loaf until it is well risen, deep golden, and has an internal temperature of about 200 degrees.
- Unmold the loaf and cool it on its side on a rack. Wrap well and store at room temperature or freeze.