Autumn is a perfect time to go savory and Grandmother Bread is the perfect recipe! Several people asked about the bread pictured in my Turkey Noodle Soup post.
It’s Grandmother Bread, of course–formed into an Italian-shaped loaf and baked on a cookie sheet. Think outside the loaf pan! Grandmother Bread also works great shaped into dinner rolls, sandwich-size rolls, sub rolls, bread twists, and anything else you can dream up! In this loaf, I simply made the standard one-loaf Grandmother Bread recipe, shaped the dough, and topped it with a generous sprinkling of Cheddar cheese to melt on top as it baked, but you can do so much more, especially to create some really elegant holiday breads.
So here are a few of my favorite savory versions of Grandmother Bread. A couple of notes–one, when I make savory Grandmother Bread, I reduce the sugar to one teaspoon per loaf because I’m not looking for a very sweet bread, and two, when I bake it in “loose” loaves on a cookie sheet, I don’t give it a second rise. I stick it straight in the oven. If you allow a second rise, the loaf will lose its shape. I don’t want to add more flour, making a denser loaf and losing the soft, light quality of Grandmother Bread, and the bread will rise fine in the oven as it heats. I do not preheat the oven when I’m baking loose loaves. This lets the bread rise as the oven heats up without putting it in directly under the maximum heat. The bread’s crust bakes first, creating an exterior “shell” that protects the loaf from flattening out as it’s rising and the oven is heating. It works, trust me! (Even with regular yeast. Rapid-rise is a helper when you’re not giving bread a “real” second rise, but it isn’t necessary.)
Now let’s get to the good stuff! Start with the standard one-loaf Grandmother Bread recipe, reducing the sugar. (Learn all about Grandmother Bread here.)
How to make Whole Wheat Herb Loaf:
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh herbs or 1 teaspoon dried*
3 1/2 cups flour (various)**
*Use more or less herbs, depending on your preference! How herby do you want it to be? You decide! Choose your favorite herbs or use whatever you have on-hand. I used a mixture of fresh rosemary, oregano, and chives here.
**I used one part whole wheat flour to two parts all-purpose flour here. When using whole grains, particularly if you go straight whole grains, use homemade dough enhancer.
In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, sugar, salt, and herbs. Let sit five minutes. Stir in the first cup and a half of flour with a heavy spoon. Add the next cup of flour a little at a time as needed, stirring until dough becomes too stiff to continue stirring easily. Add a little more flour and begin kneading. The flour measure is approximate–your mileage may vary! Continue adding flour and kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic. Let dough rise in a greased, covered bowl until doubled. (Usually, about an hour.) Uncover bowl; sprinkle in a little more flour and knead again.
Shape into a loaf. I do this by taking the dough ball in my hands, holding my hands several inches apart, and “bouncing” the loaf in my hands. Bouncing and pulling a bit, to stretch it in a loaf shape. I actually do this before placing loaves into bread pans, too, but it’s especially important when placing on a cookie sheet as it won’t have the loaf pan to provide form. Grease a cookie sheet and place the shaped loaf on it. You can slash the top with a sharp knife if you like. Turn on the oven now to 350-degrees, and not a minute sooner. Immediately place the bread in the oven. Remember that your baking time will be longer than usual because you are preheating the oven to allow the bread some rising time while the bread is already in the oven rather than heating the oven before placing the bread inside it, as with the regular Grandmother Bread in a loaf pan. Baking time will depend on how long it takes your oven to heat to 350-degrees. The baking time for regular Grandmother Bread is 25 minutes. Done this way, it takes me about 40 minutes to get a loaf done, but keep an eye on it to figure out your own time based on your oven.
You get some really rustic, beautiful loaves with this method. Like you have totally gone to Tuscany.
By the way, would you like a round loaf? Make one!
Love those incredible garlic-cheese rolls they have at restaurants? You can make those, too.
How to make Garlic-Cheese Rolls:
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese*
3 1/2 cups flour
*Use any cheese you want. Want it even cheesier? Add more. You can. You have my permission!
In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, sugar, salt, garlic, and cheese. Let sit five minutes. Stir in the first cup and a half of flour with a heavy spoon. Add the next cup of flour a little at a time as needed, stirring until dough becomes too stiff to continue stirring easily. Add a little more flour and begin kneading. The flour measure is approximate–your mileage may vary! Continue adding flour and kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic. Let dough rise in a greased, covered bowl until doubled. (Usually, about an hour.) Uncover bowl; sprinkle in a little more flour and knead again.
Shape into rolls. Any kind you like! If the dough gets sticky as you pull it apart to form rolls, sprinkle on a little flour. Make large rolls for sandwich or sub rolls. Make simple round rolls for dinner rolls, or shape into knots or breadsticks or anything else you like. Grandmother Bread makes the softest rolls in the world. Soooo good! (Especially when warm straight from the oven!)
I dragged Princess in to help me out here and take pictures. Take a bit of dough and roll between your hands to roll it out into a breadstick.
If you want to make knots, pull the dough around….
…..and slip it together in a knot.
Give rolls a second rise on a greased cookie sheet. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven. Baking time will depend on the size of your rolls, but generally around 15-20 minutes for rolls. (Keep an eye on it!)
I’m just scratching the surface here, of course. Love those onion sandwich buns they have at the store? Make your own onion buns by adding a cup of chopped onion to the dough. (Brush some olive oil on top after you shape your buns and scatter minced onion on top before baking to get it all prettied up!) Make jalapeno bread. Make cheesy-herb bread, or onion bread. Put it in a loaf pan, or not in a loaf pan! There are as many ways to make savory Grandmother Bread as there are ideas in your head. Generally, I use one cup for add-ins to the dough. (Always include your add-ins with the water-yeast mixture, before adding flour.) One cup of onions, or one cup of peppers. Or any other vegetable that suits your fancy. Bake “garden rolls” with shredded carrot and parsley. Or how about some sundried tomato and garlic bread? Make your one cup a combination, or a single item. (You can still add a cup of cheese, even if adding peppers, onions, or whatever else, though it may reduce the flour you need in your dough.)
You can double or triple these recipes for big holiday dinners, of course. Go savory and think outside the loaf pan! Could any single recipe be more versatile? Why flip through cookbooks working with a hundred different bread recipes when you can do it all with the one easy-to-memorize recipe for Grandmother Bread?
Now tell me some of your favorite savory flavors for bread!