Italian Cheese Pepper Bread (Crescia)

From Kitchen Encounters. We made the bread the first time in two large loaf pans and baked for 30 minutes. May try a few minutes less next time.

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 ounces Locatelli cheese
  • 3¼ cups (422 g) unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus ¼ cup (32 g) additional flour for kneading, plus small amount bench flour
  • 3 packets granulated active dry yeast, NOT rapid rise
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons white pepper
  • ¼ pound salted butter (1 stick)
  • 6 extra-large eggs room temperature
  • non-stick cooking spray, or butter and flour, for preparing pans

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. If cheese is whole, chop into small pieces and then pulse in food processor to a chunky consistency, about 25 pulses. Otherwise, add grated cheese to food processor.
  2. In a 2-cup measuring container, melt the butter in the microwave. Set aside.
  3. In a 1-quart measuring container, whisk the eggs together.
  4. With motor running, in a thin stream, through the feed tube, add the butter, then the eggs. A large, wet, sticky, ugly ball/mass will begin to form.
  5. Using the aid of a large spoon and your hands, carefully remove the sticky dough from the processor and place it on a generously floured pastry board. Using the heel of your hand, briefly knead the dough, adding about ¼ cup of additional flour in small amounts, until dough is smooth and no longer sticks to your hands, about 1 minute.
  6. Divide the dough into equal parts. Makes 2 large or medium size loaf pans, or eight mini-loaf pans. Place each one into a nonstick pan sprayed with cooking spray, or a regular loaf pan coated with butter and flour.
  7. Completely cover the loaves with a kitchen towel (not a damp one) and set aside to let rise, in a warm kitchen, until they are nicely risen and have domed tops, about 2 hours. Larger loaf pans will take longer, about 2½ hours.
  8. Bake loaves, all at once, on center rack of preheated 350°F oven, 18-20 minutes for mini loaf pans, 25-30 minutes for larger pans. Loaves will be honey-colored and have a hollow sound when tapped with the knuckle of your index finger. Remove from oven and cool in pans 5-10 minutes prior to removing from pans to cool completely on a cooling rack.