FARGO – I thought it was high time we check in once again with The Great Indoors progress during our year-long Trek To Times Square.
In January, I decided to set a fitness goal for myself to walk the distance equivalent of Fargo-Moorhead to Times Square in time to see the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. It’s about 1,400 miles so – roughly calculated – that’s approximately four miles a day. Forewarning: I’m not just counting treadmill steps, but steps taken throughout the day, which is making the trek a little easier.
I’ve had some roadblocks along the way – a respiratory bug that sidelined me for a few days in February, loads of time spent carpooling the kids in March and too many days of “I’d-rather-watch-Netflix-and-eat-cookies-than-get-my-miles-in.” So to be honest, I’m still playing a little catchup. If any of you are walking the trek along with me, you know we should be somewhere nearing Madison, Wisconsin now.
While I might be a few miles farther west of Madison than I’d like to be, I think I found something that might motivate me to pick up the pace and get there sooner (metaphorically speaking). Like a mouse seeking cheese at the end of a maze or a greyhound chasing a rabbit at the dog races, I will get in high gear for food – in this case, carbs.
Of course, Wisconsin is known for it’s beer and cheese. But Madison is also known for a popular street food: hot and spicy cheese bread at Stella’s Bakery. The bread is a staple of the Dane County Farmer’s Market where people line up to buy it. Many brag they polish off the huge loaf stuffed with cheese and red pepper in moments. (It’s times like this when I wish this trek weren’t virtual and that I was really walking to the market for this bread.)
Luckily, I found a recipe for Hot and Spicy Cheese Bread online at Browneyedbaker.com. True Wisconsinites swear, while it’s not exactly what they serve at Stella’s, this is darn close. Enjoy and keep walking!
Wisconsin-style Hot and Spicy Cheese Bread
For the bread:
3¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon instant (rapid-rise) yeast
1½ teaspoons red pepper flakes
1¼ teaspoons salt
½ cup warm water (110 degrees Fahrenheit)
1 egg yolk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
6 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 1½ cups), room temperature
6 ounces provolone cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 1½ cups), room temperature
For the topping:
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
To make the bread: In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together flour, sugar, yeast, red pepper flakes and salt. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the warm water, eggs, egg yolk and melted butter. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture in the mixing bowl. Using a dough hook, knead on medium speed until the dough clears the bottom and sides of the bowl – 4 to 8 minutes.
Shape the dough into a ball and transfer to a greased bowl, turning to coat the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1½ to 2 hours.
Grease a 9-inch round cake pan; set aside.
Transfer the dough to an unfloured work surface and press to deflate. Roll the dough into an 18- by 12-inch rectangle with the long side parallel to the counter’s edge.
Distribute the Monterey Jack and provolone cheeses evenly over the surface of the dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges.
Starting with the edge closest to you, roll the dough into a log, pinching the ends and seam to seal. Roll the log back and forth, applying gentle pressure, until it reaches 30 inches in length. (If the dough tears in any places, just pinch together to re-seal. Some of my cheese ended up oozing out of the bread, so I’d be more careful next time to make sure the ends are properly sealed).
Starting at one end, wind the log into a coil and tuck the end underneath the coil. Place the loaf in the cake pan and cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel. Allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1½ hours.
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Brush the top of the loaf with the beaten egg, then sprinkle with the red pepper flakes. Place the cake pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the loaf is golden brown – approximately 25 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees; tent the loaf with aluminum foil and continue to bake until the loaf registers 170 degrees Fahrenheit – 25 to 30 minutes longer.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack and immediately brush with softened butter. Let cool for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pan and turn the loaf out on the wire rack. Cool for 30 minutes before slicing; serve warm or at room temperature. The bread can be kept, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, at room temperature for up to 4 days.
Recipe courtesy of Browneyedbaker.com