JOHN CLANCY'S FETA CHEESE BREAD
Ingredients for 2 loaves:
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 packages dry active yeast (2 tablespoons)
5 cups unbleached flour
2-3 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
2 cups plain yogurt (Greek or Dannon preferred)
8 ounces feta cheese, drained pressed through a strainer
butter for coating rising bowl and bake sheets
Glaze and decoration:
1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
4 thin slices cheddar or Colby cheese
Bring all ingredients to room temperature. Dissolve the sugar and yeast in warm water. Let mixture sit until foamy.
Combine the unbleached flour and 2 cups of the bread flour in the workbowl of an electric mixer along with the salt, eggs, yogurt and cheese. Add the yeast mix and stir with a dough hook until the dry ingredients have been absorbed into a wet, sticky ball. Knead in the mixer adding remaining bread flour sparingly to make a firm elastic dough. Remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured work surface to finish the kneading and shape into a ball.
First rising: Place the dough in a generously buttered mixing bowl, turning it to coat the entire surface.. Cover and place the bowl in a warm sheltered spot to double in size, about one hour.
Second rising; Punch down the dough, knead it by hand for 1 minute, and return it to the bowl to double again.
Shaping, glazing and final rise: Punch down the dough, turn it onto a work surface, and divide it into two pieces. Mold the dough pieces into taut, spherical balls by turning following the directions in the previous recipe. Brush the loaves with egg glaze and them double, uncovered, about 45 minutes.
Decorating and baking: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Add a second coating of egg glaze to the loaves. Cut the cheese slices diagonally into triangles. Make a star pattern on the breads by connecting the short sides of each piece around the top of each loaf and allowing the long point hang down the sides.
Bake for 40-45 minutes until the surfaces are deeply browned. Cool on a wire rack.